The terminology "native plants" is misleading and has been the source of frustration when used as a guide to saving water in home gardens.

Using plants that grow naturally in your local area is the way to go if you want a garden that does not need summer watering, and the best place to start working out which plants you want is by walking through your nearest bushland.

Now is a great time because many are flowering and you can select varieties by taking a photograph and then visiting a specialist nursery or the regular plant sales held by the Friends of Kings Park.

Be aware that not all plants described as Australian natives suit our climate and soils. An example is the stunning Grevillea hybrid from northern NSW, which needs lots of summer rain.

Mediterranean varieties and plants from southern California, northern South America and Argentina grow in climates similar to ours and have adapted to long, dry summers, low rainfall, sandy soils and windy environments.

The West Australian

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