Wonderland of Attila and Michele – Fact Sheets – Gardening in Australia

Series 31 | Episode 24

Nearly 10 years after her first visit, Jane Edmanson returns to the gorgeous succulent garden created by Attila and Michele Capitani, to see how it has changed and grown.

Garden details

owner Attila and Michel Capitani
Site Narry Warren, Melbourne
A region with a special climate moderate cold
Garden created 2002
style Desert Oasis, Dr. Seuss Part, Collision of Color, Shape and Contrast

Feature guides

This acre of garden is planted as a xeriscape – one of them reducing water use – around a central lake.

The entire garden is filled with about 10,000 plants spread by the Capitan – except for one Brachychiton rupestriswho stores water in his swollen trunk. For many years, Attila ran a leading nursery for cacti and plants and he and Michel have published a number of books on these plants.

But Michelle admits, “When we started this garden, we were actually looking for a change of succulents.” Their initial plantings in the mass included azaleas, citrus, and camellias but due to lack of rainfall, slope of the site and poor soil soil, they perished in the first two years.

They found that succulents survived where others failed, so the weaker plants died, and were replaced by succulents. They also improved clay soils with compost and mulch, and created bogs and graded layers on the slope to better retain rainwater in some areas and improve drainage in others. One large, flat area landscaped like a desert, with daisies from Livingston (Cleretum bellidiforme), the piled rocks found on the property, and animal skulls.

The different leaf colors form a mosaic patchwork on the ground, punctuated by longer spikes of color than flowering cacti. A lot of Australian succulents are also used, and they now have flowers all year round.

Michel and Attila show how easy it is to propagate many succulents, often by cutting pieces from large, tall plants and throwing them on the ground.

Featured plants

blue chalk sticks (Curio Talenoids mouse. Mandralesky synchronization. Senecio Mandraliscae)
Livingston Daisy (Cleretum bellidiforme)
Paperless rock battle (Acacia Avila)
Queensland Bottle Tree (Brachychiton rupestris)
cape cactus (cactus)
aeonium tree (Aeonium arboreum) *

* note: Aeonium arboreum It is an ecological herb in some parts of Australia. Always check with your local authority before planting.

Filmed in Boon Wurrung Country

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