Archive for the 'Plants of South Australia' Category

What’s flowering in May?

Photo by M Tranent. I hope to upload a photo of the garden mentioned.

Photo by M Tranent. I hope to upload a photo of the garden mentioned.

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.

 

Olearia passerinoides

Olearia passerinoides (Daisy Bush)

Olearia passerinoides (Daisy Bush)

Olearia passerinoides is a mallee daisy and is quite a large bush with bright  green leaves, different to many mallee daisies which often have grey green leaves. Although this is a shrub, to me it behaves as a perennial shrub, in that new growth appears along the older wood.

The bush has a tendency to become scruffy, with the leaves higher up the stems and the flowers also high. If it was cut back to the lower growths, it would have dense foliage and be a more compact plant, and I suspect the flowering would also be quite spectacular.

As usual, I promise myself that I will do this, and yet another season goes buy. Mine have just finished flowering, so out with the secateurs tomorrow, while I think of it.

Olearia passerinoides is drought, lime and frost tolerant. It has clusters of small white daisies and grows to 2-3m tall by about 1.5-2m wide if left to its own devices. Pruning will keep it to a more compact size.

Templetonia retusa (Cocky’s Tongue)

Templetonia Retusa

Templetonia Retusa

This lovely shrub is very hardy and well worth a place in a shrubbery. It can grow to 2m high  and 3 m wide although I have never seen this size in garden conditions. It can be pruned and this will keep it to a reasonable size.

There are large, red pea shaped flowers very attractive to birds and butterflies, during winter and spring. This is a hardy plant suitable for front line coast and inland situations. It is moderately frost tolerant and requires good drainage. This can be achieved by creating a planting mound at least 5-10cm higher than the surrounding soil, if drainage is a problem. Templetonia retusa is found in South Australia and Western Australia. More information can be found here and here.

Mallee in Flower

Eucalyptus phenax (White Mallee)

Eucalyptus phenax (White Mallee)

I was working in the Nursery this morning and could hear what I thought was the neighbour’s air conditioner. It was there in the background but I could not track the other noise that was there. When I looked up above my head I saw it. There were hundreds of bees in the canopy of the tree because it was smothered in flowers.

I love our local mallee trees. Against all odds they put on beautiful new new leaf growth and flower prolifically when everything else has ‘quietened down’ for the hot summers we have here. We seem to have three different species and they flower consecutively. If I was into bee keeping, it would be worth while having hives here for about three months. These are moderately fast growing plants suitable for limestone soils.

Eucalyptus gracilis (White Mallee)

Eucalyptus gracilis (White Mallee)

Eucalyptus socialis (Red Mallee)

Eucalyptus socialis (Red Mallee)

Eucalyptus socialis (Red Mallee)

Most of the Eucalypts at Lowan Conservation Park are the mallee, Eucalyptus socialis. I found a good specimen to photograph. I wanted to gather an album of local Eucalypts.

The mallees are great survivors. When top branches are chopped down, or blown down, or burnt by bush fires, they shoot again from buds in the stump, called a lignotuber. The trees can look dead and be covered in new shoots within weeks.