Talk about a return to summer temperatures! We will probably have a mild autumn like we did last year. Which is good as I had fabulous germination of seeds, despite the cooler night temperatures.
A nice surprise to day as I continued to sort plants. I found Correa ‘Clearview Giant’ (has very large flowers, Correa ‘Pinkanninnie’ which has delicate pink bells, and my really nice white Correa pulchella minor. Apparently the minor part of the name refers to the orange flowered forms. I still have not worked these forms out.
I decided to take cuttings off some of these plants that I was finding, “just in case”! One thing led to another and now I have piles of cutting material to deal with. (I also have a bag of cumquats to turn into marmalade!) However that’s what happens when I have secateurs in my hands.
Was sorting plants today, removing from the system the overgrown plants that I want to plant out the front to form a “Mallee Heathland” of sorts. It doesn’t matter that they are a bit scruffy as I will chop about an inch (2-3cm) off the roots when I plant them, and prune properly when new growth begins.
I found the only plant of Templetonia retusa, a prostrate form with apricot flowers. This plant is usually called Cocky’s Tongue because of the unususal shape of the flower reminiscent of a cockatoo’s tongue. It is a pea flower, similar to Sturt’s Desert Pea. I had been disappointed that I must have lost the plant, so it was a thrill to discover it in a box of overgrown plants waiting to be planted.
Another plant that I found was a seedling Correa which now looks like it might be a prostrate form of Correa alba. It will be interesting to see the flower to confirm this. The plant appears to have potential so we will see. I rescued another Correa seedling from a another pot which contained aÂ good plant, and repotted it. That will have to be treated as a cutting as I broke a bit of the root, removing it. I have no idea what that might be at this stage of growth. Another surprise coming.
I have not been impressed with the flowering of two Westringea seedlings, although the foliage is attractive. They will go out into this heathland too, I think.
I sowed seed of Sturt’s Desert Pea (Swainsona formosa) last week and now have them germinating. I nicked the side of the seed with nail clippers and placed the seed in small individual pots. There may be a few failures, but at least I am avoiding root disturbance.
I find nicking the seed to be more successful than the boiling water treatment. It is more labour intensive having to handle each individual seed but the results warrant it, I feel.
I still remember the first time I saw these growing in their natural habitat. We were heading for Arkaroola in northern SA and pulled off the road to have morning tea. It wasn’t until we were out of the car that we realised that we were in the middle of a huge patch of these plants and the first flowers for the season were just coming out. Fabulous photos (in those days, slides!) gave us great enjoyment later, too.
When you see the environment that they grow in it gives an appreciation of how far the roots must travel in order to survive the summer. The plants are sometimes perennial but probably best treated as annuals. They give a glorious display of their brash pea shaped flowers. Ants will carry the seed around the garden and they will pop up in the spots that you don’t want them but haven’t the heart to pull them out. The self sown ones always do better.
A lot of research has been done on breeding colours for export markets and on the growing of these plants. At one time it was always declared that you did not water these plants in the garden. After all look at where they grow in the wild in barren, parched locations. However, logically, they grow and flower when there is moisture available. So in the home garden they need water if you want growth and flowers. Apparently they do particularly well in self watering pots and also appreciate fertiliser. I haven’t tried this yet. I just want them in the ground, self sowing merrily away! To see some lovely photos of Sturt Desert Peas have a look at this web page.
I spent the weekend in Victor Harbor at a women’s conference. As usual hawk eyes was on the lookout for what native plants grow in this sea side town which we know reasonably well.
It rained on Saturday morning and at lunch time when the sun came out there was a wonderful smell of eucalyptus in the air. Having been to this CWCI conference many times at this venue, I have watched the Eucalyptus platypus planted along the boundary of the carpark. Some have split open in the extremes of wind, others have remained very sturdy and bushy trees ideal for the screening task. I am sure that Eucalyptus platypus has had a name change but I cannot recall it at the moment. Must do some research.
There are a number of hardy trees and large shrubs which would be good as a boundary planting. Unfortunately because they are often planted as a single row of plants, wind can be tunnelled along them or through them and cause the splitting or blowing over. Ideally another one or two rows of lower shrubs can prevent this happening and provide a perfect environment for small creatures and birds. Especially if some of the planting is devoted to providing nesting habitat with prickly plants. Not on the side where people get out of their cars of course!
Here is a list of some of my favourites in various sizes, tolerating coastal conditions, drought, moderate frost and lime:(I will add to this list later.)
Acacia iteaphylla (Flinders Range Wattle)
Acacia longifolia var. sophorae (Coastal Wattle)
Acacia pycnantha (Golden Wattle)
Adenanthos sericeus (Woollybush)
Allocasuarina muelleriana (Slaty Sheoak)
Alyogyne hakeifolia (yellow) (Red-centred Hibiscus)
Banksia media (Golden Stalk)
Banksia praemorsa (Cut-leaf Banksia)
Callistemon rugulosus (Scarlet Bottlebrush)
Calothamnus quadrifidus yellow or red (One-sided bottlebrush)
Correa glabra var. turnbullii (Rock Correa)
Chamelaucium uncinatum x axillare (Geraldton Wax family)
I realised when I wrote the last entry that I had intended making a table of my propagation records for the Australian Daisy Study Group. A request was made for information in relation to the new book which is being prepared. It is not likely that many others will have the information that I have, so I do need to get on to this!
Most of the plant information that is published is geared to the Eastern States of Australia, so it becomes a necessity to keep records and make observations here to provide information for growers in SA. This becomes essential information at the two Plant Sales held by the Australian Plant Society in SA.
Another set of records that I must update is the use of smoke in germinating seeds. I had a great deal of success last Autumn.
Speaking of seeds germinating, I was thrilled to see the first seedlings of Sturt Peas (Swainsona formosa) showing through today.Â The trick will be to keep them going for the next week or so, to get their first sets of leaves.