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The 'Best' garden in Glenelg North

Sunday 19 December 2021

At first glance, you could easily mistake the front garden of Terry and Anne Best’s home for a nature reserve – with its significant gum trees and dozens of flowering shrubs and succulents.

But hidden behind the greenery is their modest War Service home, which has its own story to tell. Built in 1948, the home was among dozens built in Glenelg North for returned service personnel.

While the front garden is impressive, the backyard is also a plant-lover's delight, with a glorious wattle in full bloom as the standout.

The garden has been a labour of love for Terry and Anne for the best part of 50 years.

Terry planted the property’s first tree in 1971. Back then, the house was surrounded only by lawn - and no trees. That soon changed thanks to a “tall tree program” which existed at the time.

“Householders were encouraged to plant trees and free seedlings were handed out. A person called at my house and offered me three seedlings - but I convinced him to give me six and I subsequently got another three,” Terry said.

Fast forward 50 years and the property now boasts 11 gum trees (eucalypt and corymbia), eremophila, acacia, strelitzia, melaleuca, callistemon, banksia, senna, hibiscus, grevillea, syzygium, bougainvillea, and templetonia. You’ll also find other plants such as nandinas, pelargoniums, nasturtiums, cliveas, proteas, and salvia.

In simple terms, the garden is a beautiful blend of natives, succulents, and flowering shrubs, each with different coloured and textured foliage that provides interest year-round.

“We’re always planting,” said the couple, who estimate they’ve added several hundred plants to their garden.

“Over the years we’ve learnt which plants are best suited for the environment here and the soil, and we've put in plants that don’t need much watering”.

Water collected on the property is used on the plants and prunings and clippings are put through a shredder and returned to the soil as mulch.

But aside from the aesthetic appeal of the lush garden, there are significant environmental benefits – particularly in keeping the house and surroundings cool in summer.

The Bests say they never switch on their air-conditioning in summer.

“With the tree canopy and the overhanging eaves on the house (a feature which is unfortunately no longer used) we do not find the need to use an air-conditioner and our power bill is usually less than $200 per quarter,” Terry said.

A thermal imagery photo taken on a 39c day of the Best house demonstrates the cooling effect the garden has on the house.

The Best roof showed a temperature of 31 degrees, whereas a neighbour’s house a few doors down was bright red on the thermal image with a roof temperature of more than 35 degrees plus.

The result didn’t surprise Terry and Anne who say a large tree on the northern side of their house provides significant shade, particularly in the summer months.

The garden has also attracted lots of wildlife with rosellas using a nesting box in the backyard and golden orb spiders spotted on occasion in the front yard.

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