From Gum Trees to Banksias – Create a May Gibbs Garden with Kids!

Date :
February 19, 2021

Though best-known today for her iconic Snugglepot and Cuddlepie books, May Gibbs was originally trained as a botanical artist and illustrator. Visit Carrick Hill to view this beautiful collection of rarely seen May Gibbs art. Create a May Gibbs-themed Australian native garden with your kids. From banksias to gum trees and more, discover the beauty of the Australian bush!

Create a May Gibbs Native Garden with Kids!

The Australian bush was a huge inspiration to May Gibbs and her beloved stories, and by creating a native May Gibbs-themed garden with your kids, it can become one to your family, too! Choose native plants that attract native bees and insects, lizards, frogs and other Australian animals and help teach your children about the Australian landscape in a unique, fun way that helps them also become part of the ecosystem. Watch their little imaginations soar just like May Gibbs’ did, and help them create their own bush-inspired stories! Read on to find out how you can make your very own May Gibbs garden!

The plan

A native garden is a fantastic idea for so many reasons, but the biggest two are that they’re so easy to maintain, and they offer food and habitat for many Australian animals. This can be vital to the local ecosystem, especially in the harsh summer months.

First things first – you need to do your research! Encourage your kids to get excited about your new garden by getting them involved in choosing the plants and helping to design how your garden will look. Check out May Gibbs’ books for ideas. Her drawings were all botanically correct, so you’ll be able to spot a few well-known natives at your local nursery!

Consider what else you and your kids would like in your garden – you’ll want to add a touch of whimsy! Do you have a bird bath you could add? What about a small water feature? Could you include little gumnut babies or bush fairies hiding amongst the leaves? Could your kids make plant labels from rocks, or a spider web frame? And don’t forget, kids love sensory experiences, so think about adding sand, stones, or native mulch.

What plants should we choose?

Next, choose your plants! Australia is so diverse with its native flora that this might be tricky. Here are a few ideas to get you started!

  • Scribbly Gum – this gum tree can grow up to 10 metres tall and has cream flowers to attract birds.
  • Plunkett Mallee – a fast growing, small gum tree with white flowers that are full of nectar in spring.
  • Native Lilac – attracts butterflies, and can form arches or tunnels for the kids to explore if you train it with something to climb on. The flowers are a beautiful purple colour.
  • Ruby Saltbush – inject more colour into your garden with this bush that has a rainbow of edible berries. They can range from yellow to pink, red, and even purple!
  • Cushion bush – fantastic for fairy gardens, with silver leaves and yellow flowers that you can plant in a fairy ring.
  • Clasping Goodenia – smells fantastic all year round. Get the kids to rub its leaves together!
  • Kangaroo grass – brilliant plants for weaving baskets and an important food source for caterpillars. Your kids might even spot their transformations into butterflies!
  • Banksias – May Gibbs thought these looked like wicked little men, and they became iconic villains in her books. Your May Gibbs garden wouldn’t be complete without one!

Encourage your kids to help you plant your garden, and actively participate in caring for it. Get them to create journals to record what they see and experience, and ask them to write stories about what they find. You’ll absolutely love your native May Gibbs garden!

For more ideas on Australian native flora or getting the kids involved in nature, May Gibbs is chock full of inspiration!

Librarian BecLibrarian Bec
Right now, Librarian Bec’s hard at work at your local library, sharing a passion for reading with little people and big. Bec writes about inspiring little readers and embracing lovely literature.