There are quite a few plants flowering in my district in May. They include Swainsona formosa, Acacia iteaphylla, Eremophila maculata forms, to name a few. This has stimulated me to begin again on my blog, as well as the queries for information that I periodically receive. My lifestyle has changed and should allow me to pick up again.
Swainsona formosa may seem to be an unlikely plant to include in this list. However a roughly 5square metres front yard of a house in the town has been sown completely to the Sturt’s Desert Pea. The owner described to me that he threw a handful of seed over the yellow gravel he had spread over the area which may have been lawn before. He did it at this time of the year relying on natural rainfall to germinate the seed. He applied some extra water during the height of summer to keep them going. The result was a gorgeous display of red flowers with the black eye, against the grey green foliage. He showed me where more seed was germinating in some of the bare patches. He also had an abundance of seed pods filled with seed, a handful of which he generously gave to me.
I had the opportunity to travel to Ethiopia, and what should greet me on leaving the airport but a stand of Grevillea robusta (Silky Oak), Acacia mearnsii (Black Wattle), a Melaleuca I didn’t recognize and a Eucalyptus species. (Who would have thought I would need Ivan Holliday’s book on Melaleucas in an overseas country?) Having seen these, my eyes picked them out constantly during our stay. There were forests of Eucalypts, attempts to keep Eucalypts going as street trees, and I noticed in some local nurseries, advanced plants of Eucalypts, Acacia and Grevillea robusta. In the grounds of the place where we stayed were Callistemon (Bottlebrush) species which looked like forms of Callistemon viminalis.
It was a difficult exercise to determine what plants were the naturally occurring species in the country side of Ethiopia. There had been much clearing of vegetation, and because the naturally occurring plants were much slower growing, they were not replaced. The need for wood for fuel and building supplies compromised the revegetation programmes.
Over the years many Australian species have been propagated in foreign nurseries and proved to be popular garden and pot plants for gardeners interested in the foliage and many unusual flower forms.
I have just planted three of these plants. They were quite tight in their pots but were making new shoots so I decided to take a chance and put them in as they were. Mine are a yellow-green colour, but you can also get pink, orange, red, yellow or green, and sometimes mixed colours. The usual colour is the yellow -green
Two have gone onto a raised mound, and the third at ground level but with a dose of gypsum in case there is clay below the root ball. Mounds need only be 120 mm above ground level to achieve the drainage required.
This is the hardiest of the kangaroo paws and is used in breeding the new hybrids that are in many nurseries these days. I must say that I like the species plants even though I admire the new colours.
The strappy leaves on this plant can grow up to a metre tall and the clump to a metre across. However the flower spikes can grow to two metres . The seed I was given came from plants that had these very tall spikes and many flowers on the stalk.
It grows best in moist, light to medium soils, in partial to full sun, but will tolerate dappled shade. It can be damaged by frost.
Black ink disease is a problem in misty areas or locations where there is not enough air movement. Slugs and snails will cause a lot of damage.
A request for help with a site that was clay soil in full sun in summer and full shade in winter prompted a look through my reference books. I was able to find the following list of plants.
Do what you can to improve the drainage of the clay. Liberal sprinkling with gypsum, at least a Kg per sq metre is required. The rain will wash it in or you can water it in.
Here are some shade loving plants that tolerate full sun, and vice versa! Most of these will require some water in Summer once established, to keep them at their best. A mulch in summer will assist with evening out the soil temperature.
Plants for Full Sun amd Full Shade
Dianella revoluta and Dianella tasmanica are good ones.
Bauera rubioides (will need summer water)
Callistemon citrinus and forms of this- Anzac, Burgundy, Endeavour, Mauve Mist, Western Glory,
Correa ‘Dusky Bells’
Correa pulchella forms
Hardenbergia violacea any colour
Prostanthera ovalifolia (summer water)
An email came today asking for assistance with species that would grow in bore water with high salt readings. This is a difficulty for many in the mallee areas of South Australia and no doubt other parts of the country too. In many cases it becomes trial and error to see what would grow in such a situation, but some lists have been compiled by members of the Australian Plants Society which give a good starting point.
There are some things to consider.
- There is a need to ensure that watering is deep.
- Choose plants from areas which have the same rainfall situation ie same amount of rain, at the same time of year. This is to ensure that plants will get minimum exposure to the high salinity.
- If possible place highly desirable plants near an alternative water source, eg rain water, to get them well established without the saline water.
List of Australian Native Plants with salt tolerance.
1st Line Coast
Ground Covers, Climbers and Low Spreading Plants
Eremopohila glabra prostrate red form
Templetonia retusa prostrate form
Eremophila glabra (Rottnest Island)
Shrubs over 2m.
More lists will be available soon.