Melbourne-based plant guru, interior designer and architect Jason Chongue is the co-founder of The Plant Society. His passion for gardening, which began in childhood, resulted in a collection of rare, unusual plants from international and local growers. His expertise in all things indoor and outdoor plants has resulted in the growth of his business (currently four stores in Australia), book deals and media commentary. He spoke to Backyard about his passion, and took us on a tour of his own garden and foliage-filled home
Jason’s well-documented indoor oasis is populated with more than 400 plants. “It’s a sprawling garden outside as well,” he says of his Abbotsford, NSW, home. “I spend an hour a day out in the garden, including tending to the indoor plants.”
While he admits he does n’t have to spend so much time nurturing his indoor and outdoor plants, Jason finds the experience therapeutic. In addition to the many tropical species he grows indoors, he’s enthusiastic about cultivating food and herb plants in his indoor and outdoor gardens.
“I’m growing mint, thyme and sage, as well as oranges, lemons, limes and some Japanese citrus: yuzu and sudachi.” Sourcing his exotic fruits and vegetables from Daleys Fruit Tree Nursery, Jason admits he has just one single fruit on one of the trees. “My theory is that it’s always worth a try!”
The enthusiastic green thumb selects his outdoor plants for their sustainable value. “I select drought-tolerant plants like native grasses, Mediterranean and arid plants. So, I might use rosemary ornamentally but I would also opt for cussonia trees. I’ve got salvias and perennials, which are quite hardy. There’s wisteria, ficus varieties. I also love roses.”
JASON’S TOP TIPS
Edible plants that work well in any garden
• Cascading rosemary
• Olive tree
• Bay tree
• Italian flat-leaf parsley
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