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What you might find in the River Gardens garden

Axedale - Heat - Drought - Frost Tolerant Plants

Yellow Rose

Plants suited to the Bendigo and Heatcote area.

Scorching heat (45C) to freezing cold (-3C) makes for some extreme gardening in the Axedale area. Through trial and error over several years we have discovered which type of plants are best suited or adaptable to our climate. See below for our best plants guide.

Most garden plants on the list below are available from Bendigo nurseries and plant specialists.

Bendigo: appears to be slightly warmer than Axedale and far more wind protected. We have noticed that bearded iris and roses flower up to several weeks earlier in Bendigo gardens than at Axedale. Bougainvillea also grows well in protected areas in Bendigo whereas in Axedale we struggle to keep one alive, let alone growing and flowering.

Heathcote: appears to have a very similar climate to Axedale. Our list of successful plants should also be suited to the Heathcote district.

"You know, you can't grow grass on rock!"

A farmer friend of ours took a look at River Gardens Axedale and remarked; "You know, you can't grow grass on rock!" And he was right. There's literally acres of land in our goat paddocks that are exposed rock and it grows no feed at all. However, we have discovered that when covered with 300mm of topsoil, manured, mulched and watered, you can grow roses, lavender, salvias and buddleia just to name a few.

Plants are truly amazing and they have a way of sending their roots down into crevices and gaps between rocks that not only supply them with food and nutrients, but also give them a secure grip on the ground.


River Gardens Plants

  • Aquilegia: Also known as columbines and granny bonnets. They absolutely thrive in our garden.
  • Bearded Iris: We are proud to say that bearded iris grow so well in our garden that they have taken out first prize at the Bendigo show several times. Early October brings on a wonderful display of bearded iris.
  • Buddliea: You can't kill them with a stick! Once established they are very drought tolerant. Birds, bees and butterflies love them. At River Gardens Axedale we even have a yellow buddliea that we grew from a cutting given to us from a friend. Apparently yellow buddliea are an old and rare variety.
  • Clematis: Growing well so far. We have placed an old ladder in the garden for it to climb over.
  • Cosmos: Probably our absolute favourite cottage garden plant. Grows up to 2 metres high and flowers until the first frost.
  • Daisies (General): Most varieties of daisies will grow around Axedale. They can be burnt off in the frost but a good healthy trim of the burnt foliage sets them up to flower again from spring to autumn.
  • Daisies (Shasta): Good for cut flowers. Grow well.
  • Day Lilies: Grow and flower extremely well if we can keep the guinea fowl from eating each new leaf that emerges.
  • Delphiniums: Grows well. Requires well-drained soil sheltered from strong wind. Plant in full sun to light shade.
  • Foxgloves: Will not flower in their first year. Well worth the wait.
  • Gladioli: It is recommended to lift gladioli if there is a risk of hard frosts. We have not lifted ours due to time constraints and laziness. As of autumn 2019 they have survived without incident.
  • Grape (Ornamental): Loves the climate and is growing well on the north-west corner of the house.
  • Gaura: Also known as beeblossum and butterfly bush. Gaura is one of our favorite plants. Who wouldn't love endless months of long stems of white and pink flowers dancing throughout the garden. Can be grown from cuttings.
  • Hollyhocks: Best if planted in full sun with moist but well draining soil.
  • Lambs Ears: Low maintenance ground cover. May die back during a cold winter.
  • Lavender: Grows very well. We have several varieties growing at River Gardens Axedale. Not many visitors to our gardens are able to resist the temptation of touching the lavender to smell the perfume.
  • Lemon Scented Geranium: We are using our lemon scented geranium as a low hedge around our lower terrace. It has been burnt off severely by winter frosts. It recovers well after a good cut back. Recovery does take a little longer than we would like. To be fair, we have had a couple of mild winters where it has not been burnt off at all.
  • Penstemons: Grow in full sun with moist well drained soil.
  • Petunias: Grow very well and have a long flowering if you can get them past being eaten off as seedlings by rabbits.
  • Pigface: Grows like crazy. Makes a good weed suppressing ground cover. Pigface is edible.
  • Rosemary: A tough dry climate long flowering plant. We have individual plants throughout our gardens in addition to a hedge around the vegetable garden. A wonderful plant to fill in almost any sunny position you have available.
  • Roses: Are the ultimate and most beautiful plant at River Gardens Axedale. The flowering period is late October to early May. Many different varieties survive and thrive in the garden. Bush roses, climbing roses, rugosa roses, hybrid teas and David Austin roses put on a tremendous display.
  • Salvias: A great drought tolerant plant that thrives around Axedale. Adds life to the garden.
  • Sea Holly: Grows in the poorest and least watered soil in your garden.
  • Sedum: A succulent that is thriving in both full sun and part shade in our garden. Can die back to a ground level rosette in the winter.
  • Spring Bulbs: There is a variety of spring bulbs growing successfully throughout our gardens. Unfortunately, they do not put on a substantial enough display to warrant opening our gardens to the public prior to October. In October the bearded iris and roses put on a display that is well worth seeing.

Fruit Trees

  • Apple: Depending on variety, needs a chill factor of between 300 and 1200 hours below 7C to fruit well. Axedale, Bendigo and Heathcote all meet this requirement.
  • Apricot: Water consistently throughout the growing season. Lack of water is the main reason for crop failure.
  • Cherry: Plant in a sunny area with plenty of air circulation. Needs cross pollination.
  • Fig: A star performer with two crops a year.
  • Lemon: Needs plenty of water to become established.
  • Lemonade: Has produced some big crops of fruit.
  • Mulberry: Grows well. Requires netting to keep the birds off the fruit.
  • Nectarine: Should start to fruit in years 2 and 3. Expect heavy fruiting from year 5 onwards. Can last up to 30 years.
  • Olive: Grows well in the Axedale/Heathcote climate.
  • Orange: Grows well.
  • Peach: You will need at least 6 hours of sunshine each day and a good air flow to successfully grow a peach tree. Some bird netting wouldn't hurt either.
  • Pear: Pear trees grow well in Axedale. Trees should be planted in late winter or early spring.
  • Plumb: Grows well. Birds are a problem.
  • Quince: Prolific fruiting. Loves the climate.


  • Apple cucumbers: Grow very well. Two plants produced far more cucumbers than we could use.
  • Blackberries: Lack of regular watering and an attack by some escaped baby goats has stunted our thornless blackberry. In spite of the mistreatment it is growing reasonably well.
  • Capsicum: Grows very well and fruits late into autumn.
  • Carrots: Grow well.
  • Corn (Sweet): Expect a good crop of sweet corn. Best if protected from strong winds.
  • Grape: You can't go wrong growing red and white wine and table grapes in the Axedale/Heathcote area.
  • Onions: Easy to grow and they love the climate. Expect success with brown, salad and spring onions.
  • Peas: Flowers can be damaged by frosts. Sow in spring.
  • Peas (Snow): Best supported by a wire frame or trellis. Grows well for summer salads.
  • Potatoes: Grow well in the vegetable garden. We are trying a no-dig garden of potatoes in our orchard this coming spring. We will post the results.
  • Pumpkin: Grows well if you have the space.
  • Raspberries: They are growing but it seems a little too hot for them. We will see what next year brings.
  • Silver beat: We have grown an amazing amount of silver beat in several places throughout the garden. We grow it for our own use and to also feed our smaller animals and birds.
  • Squash: Grows very well providing it is well watered.
  • Strawberries: It is now late autumn and we are still picking strawberries from our twenty or so plants. We picked enough strawberries two weeks ago to make two jars of jam. Our vegetable garden is situated on the north side of a shipping container that has caused a real micro-climate to occur. Without a doubt it has extended our growing season for most fruits and vegetables by four to six weeks.
  • Watermelon: Grows very well with space and water.
  • Zucchini: Similar to squash and pumpkin - grows well with space and water.

Biggest Planting Failures

  • Bougainvillea: Once our building envelope was carved from the side of a hill we envisioned growing bougainvillea up the embankments to cover the scar. The bougainvillea would be a blaze of colour throughout summer and also act as a great weed suppressant. Yeah Nah! It was never meant to be. Our frosty winter nights soon killed the dream. We now have one bougainvillea hiding under a rock. It peaks out for a few days in mid summer and then goes back into hiding without giving us a sight of a flower.
  • Dahlias: Unfortunately we couldn't keep the rabbits from eating each shoot as it appeared. A fenced area is probably the long term answer but we don't have the time or correct positioning right now to build one. For us, there are many easier plants to grow that also put on a wonderful display.
  • Lime: Between the inconsistent watering in the summer and the cold in the winter, we lost our lime tree. Limes apparently don't much like temperatures below 10C. Our -1C, -2C and -3C were just too much for it to tolerate.
  • Passion fruit: We are now on our seventh passion fruit in four years. Our nurseryman has threatened to report us to the authorities for cruel and unusual treatment of a plant. The frost has just been too much for them. Having said that, we are trying again with a couple of plants behind the aviary and under the roof line on the east side.
  • Jacaranda: The frost has killed one tree and severely burnt off two more. We will cover them again this winter. From what we have read they should survive without much care once they reach a few metres in height. We haven't given up yet.

Local Plant Nurseries

  • Rodilesa Plant Supplies
    Plant nursery in Junortoun
    789 McIvor Hwy, Junortoun VIC 3551
    Phone: (03) 5449 3966

  • Macdonalds Plants Plus Nursery
    Plant nursery in Spring Gully
    88 Retreat Rd, Spring Gully VIC 3550
    Phone: (03) 5443 4644

  • Goldfields Revegetation
    Plant nursery in Mandurang
    230 Tannery Ln, Mandurang VIC 3551
    Phone: (03) 5439 5384

  • ASQ Skydancers - Garden & Cafe
    Plant nursery in Harcourt
    Cnr Blackjack Rd and Midland Hwy, Harcourt VIC 3453
    Phone: (03) 5474 3800

  • Neangar Nursery
    Forestry service in Eaglehawk
    8 McClelland Dr, Eaglehawk VIC 3556
    Phone: (03) 5446 9260


Bed and Breakfast

River Gardens Bed and Breakfast Farm Stay is situated just minutes from the wineries and cellar doors of Axedale, Eppalock, Mandurang, Elmore, Toolleen, Mount Camel, Bendigo and Heathcote.

River Gardens offers a luxury bed and breakfast farm stay on the banks of the Campaspe River. 

Book at either our self-contained unit or our motel-style room for as little as $180 per night.

Bendigo-Heathcote Tourism
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River Gardens Axedale
PO Box 9144
91 Brownes Lane
Axedale Victoria 3551
0425 716 369
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