Growing plants under your fruit trees has many benefits. They increase diversity in your garden and attract bees and other beneficial insects.

In the permaculture world planting a group of plants together is often called a ‘guild’. It’s also a key aspect of creating a food forest in your garden.

But deciding what to grow can be puzzling. There are just so many choices, how on earth are you meant to know what goes with what?

The diverse garden beds at Perth Cultural Centre

We were delighted to find these garden beds at the Urban Orchard during a visit to Perth. We’ve also written about them in this blog.

We think a public garden that is dedicated to showing people what to grow under their fruit trees is a brilliant idea!

It provides a space to actually test the theory of planting flowers, herbs, and vegetables under your fruit trees.

In most cases it has worked brilliantly. Not all the plants that are listed on the boards are evident in the beds, so there have apparently been some failures.

But as anyone who gardens understands, not everything you plant thrives! Plant death and failure are to be expected sometimes.

We’re grateful to Perth Cultural Centre for creating these stunning gardens so we can all learn from their experience. Plus, we all get to admire the beauty from afar!

In no particular order, here are a selection of the beds. We hope you find them as inspirational as we do.

Bed 5: Fig (var. unknown)

Plants growing under the fig tree:

  • White asparagus (Asparagus officinalis)
  • Purple asparagus (Asparagus officinalis)
  • Purple vervain (Verbena bonariensis)
  • Italian parsley (Petroselinum crispum var. neapolitanum)
  • Strawberries (Fragaria x ananassa) – there are many different varieties of strawberry and they make a wonderful cover plant beneath fruit trees
  • Boobialla (Myoporum insulare ‘Prostrate‘) – also known as common boobialla or native juniper, in the figworth family
  • Murrnong (Microseris lanceolata) – also called Yam Daisy, an edible native tuber

Bed 6: Nectarine tree (var. unknown)

On one side of the nectarine tree in Bed 6 there are healthy eggplants with tiny fruit
On one side of the nectarine tree in Bed 6 there are healthy eggplants with tiny fruit
Amaranth and other red plants make a stunning display under the nectarine tree in Bed 6
Amaranth and other red plants make a stunning display under the nectarine tree in Bed 6

Plants growing under the tree in bed 6:

  • Red Russian kale (Brassica oleracea) – a stunning purple kale
  • Red chicory (Cichorium intybus)
  • Eggplant (Solanum melongena)
  • Genovese basil (Ocimum basilicum)
  • Snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus)
  • Dianthus (Dianthus caryophyllus) – also known as carnation
  • Marigolds (Tagetes erecta) – a reliable and tough flowering plant that has been included in many of the beds in the Perth community garden. Has many medicinal properties.
  • Amaranth (Amaranthus) – there are many different species of amaranth, but most have edible leaves and/or seeds

Bed 12: Josephine pear tree

A beautiful mature pear tree in Bed 12 with multiple suckers that need removing
A beautiful mature pear tree in Bed 12 with multiple suckers that need removing

Plants growing under the tree:

  • Sunflowers (Helianthus)
  • Rhubarb (Rheum rhubarbarum)
  • Artichoke (Cynara scalymus)
  • Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)
  • Tuscan kale (Brassica oleracea var. palmifolia)
  • Rainbow chard (Beta vulgaris subsp. cicla var. Flavescens)
  • Pumpkin (Cucurbita)
  • Alyssum (Lobularia maritime)
  • Dianthus (Dianthus caryophyllus)
  • Marigold (Tagetes erecta)
Bed 10 has a diverse mix of native, edible, and flowering plants that will grow under your fruit trees

Bed 13: Macadamia and mango trees

A beautiful mature macadamia tree at one end of Bed 13
A beautiful mature macadamia tree at one end of Bed 13
The mango tree at the other end of Bed 13 with the French lavender in the foreground
The mango tree at the other end of Bed 13 with the French lavender in the foreground

Plants growing under the trees:

  • French lavender (Lavandula staechas)
  • Citronella geranium (Pelargonium ‘Citronella‘)
  • Comfrey (Symphytum)
  • Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare)
  • Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium)
  • Society garlic (Tulbaghia violacea)
  • False valerian (Centranthus ruber)
  • Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
  • Salt bush (Atriplex nummularia)

Bed 15: Guava and Meyer lemon trees

Bed 15 has both a guava and a Meyer lemon tree
Bed 15 has both a guava and a Meyer lemon tree

Understory plants:

  • Elderflower or elderberry (Sambucus)
  • Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium)
  • Citronella geranium (Pelargonium ‘Citronella‘)
  • French lavender (Lavandula staechas)
  • Dill (Anethum graveolens)
  • Comfrey (Symphytum)
  • Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare)
  • Purple vervain (Verbena bonariensis)
  • Pineapple sage (Salvia elegans)
  • Clary sage (Salvia sclarea)
  • Catnip (Nepeta cataria)
  • Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
  • Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)

Garden Bed 17: Orange tree

Bed 17 demonstrates a variety of plants you can grow under an orange tree
Bed 17 demonstrates a variety of plants you can grow under an orange tree

Understory plants:

  • Elderflower (Sambucus). Berries and flowers contain high levels of antioxidants and vitamins that can help with immune function. Used to treat inflammation, stress, gut problems, headaches, fever, kidney problems, and HIV/AIDS.
  • Comfrey (Symphytum)
  • Yarrow (Achillea millefolium). A useful plant for healing wounds, plus can be useful for stomach problems and anxiety.
  • Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare)
  • Society garlic (Tulbaghia violacea)
  • Marjoram (Origanum majorana). Mainly known as a culinary herb. Marjoram can also be used to treat digestion and menstruation problems.
  • Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)
  • Maroon bush (Scoevola spinascens). Also called Murin, this native plant has been used in traditional medicine for colds and stomach issues.
Bed 17

Number 18: Olive tree (Manzanillo)

Bed 18 - Manzanillo olive tree with a herbal and floral understory
Bed 18 – Manzanillo olive tree with a herbal and floral understory

Understory plants:

  • Prostrate rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis Prostatus)
  • Chives (Allium schoenoprasum). Contain Vit K, C, and A. Potentially useful for treating cancer, sleep disorders, and inflammation.
  • Oregano (Origanum vulgare)
  • Mint (Mentha)
  • It looks like there’s some calendula in there as well, even though it’s not on the board
Bed 18

Hopefully, your brain is pinging with new ideas about what to plant under your fruit trees.

Happy planting!

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