The Maltese Cross begonia makes a striking addition to the shade plants.
The Maltese Cross begonia makes a striking addition to the shade plants. Darren Evans

This garden is a Noah’s Ark

WITH an acre of garden to play with, Max and Caroline Lassen have the luxury of indulging their penchant for variety in all green things.

Wander into their McLeod's Shoot oasis and it's easy to get lost on the winding paths with myriads of variegated plants and ground covers, begonias, bromeliads, cordylines and more, sprinkled generously throughout with enormous poinsettia, bamboo or jacaranda.

 

A pigeon, and its mate, often come to rest and nest in a shady tree.
A pigeon, and its mate, often come to rest and nest in a shady tree. Helen Hawkes

They've lived in the Byron area for 28 years and are members of the Bangalow Garden Club. Before that, the couple were in Papua New Guinea, where Mr Lassen worked for the Treasury. "Hence my liking for subtropicals and foliage plants," he said.

While a nicely manicured lawn stretches through the middle of the Noah's ark type arrangement - there is at least two of everything and more types of plant than you can name - it is the groupings around the edges that delight and surprise.

Purple Petrea, Fraser Island creeper, philodendrons, coffee plant, burro's tail, medinilla, lady slipper vine, native violet, heliotrope cherry pie, golden trumpet vine, mist flower, strelitzia, mondo grass, Crown of thorns, anthurium, donkeys ears, clivias, tibouchina, Brazilian red cloak, beehive ginger, magnolia and cardinal creeper thrive happily in the Lassen's garden.

Productive plants include tamarillo - beautiful with a little sugar and fresh cream, guava - perfect for jam, monsteria, lychee, lemon and more. A veggie garden contains tomatoes, beans, and the last of other summer veggies, while lemongrass, comfrey and rosemary are scattered nearby.

 

A brick area under the house allows plants to grow in a manmade micro climate.
A brick area under the house allows plants to grow in a manmade micro climate. Darren Evans

There's a pigeon nesting in one of the shade trees, a friendly brown tree snake, pythons, echidnas, and, in creek from which Mr Lessen sometimes pumps water for the garden.

Adjacent to the house there's an "indoor" type of area where shade plants grow in a microclimate.

"I've always liked gardening," said Mr Lessen, who grew up in Katikati in the Bay of Plenty.

 

A cardinal creeper vine adds colour to the garden.
A cardinal creeper vine adds colour to the garden. Darren Evans

His compost patches feed the plants and the Northern Rivers' rain, sunshine and humidity and a very green thumb does the rest.



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