The theme this month is Australian native plants. Some gardeners turn their noses up at the mention of native plants in their gardens, while others (a growing proportion) see the vast range of Australian native shrubs and trees as providing opportunities to have pretty, hardy, environment friendly and interesting plants suited to their climate and soils.
Some native plants suited to our region that you may like to consider are:
Trees: Eucalyptus pauciflora (snow gum), scoparia (white/willow gum), stellulata (black sally), sideroxylon (red ironbark) are all medium size, hardy gum trees. I saw a beautiful red ironbark covered in red flowers last October in a garden in this region. Euky Dwarf is a red flowering dwarf form of Eucalyptus leucoxylon that is hardy and only grows to about 5m if you have limited space. Casuarina cunninghamiana (river sheoak) is a hardy, graceful native tree that can be used for boundary plantings for privacy or wind protection.
Shrubs: There are large numbers of flowering native shrubs that will suit various sites and functions in your garden. Callistemons (bottlebrushes) come in many cultivars ranging from Little John and Captain Cook (about 1m) to Western Glory and Hannah Ray (about 3m) and Viminalis (red weeping bottlebrush; 5m). Grevillias and Banksias are favourites which produce unique flowers from summer through autumn which attract native birds to your garden. Grevillia cultivars such as Robyn Gordon, Hills Jubilee and Fireworks all grow to about 1.5m. There are some excellent spreading groundcover Grevillias too, including cultivars Bedspread, Gaudi’s Ghost and Bronze Rambler which grow to less than 0.5m high and spread over 2m wide.
Other flowering, small native shrubs that can fill a special place in your garden include Eremophila (emu bush), Correa (bell shaped flowers in a range of colours), Crowea, Leptospermum, Prostanthera (mint bush) and Hardenbergia (purple/blue flowering groundcovers/climbers).
Flower beds and borders: Different forms of native everlasting daisies, including Rhodanthe (white flowers) and Bracteantha (orange flowers) give good mass colour in garden beds. Some grassy, strappy leaf natives such as Dianella and Lomandra can be used for low maintenance borders for garden beds.
If you want to learn more about native plants suited to our region see “Australian Native Plants to Grow in and around Orange” (published by TAFE) or you could also join the Australian Plants Society which has an active Central West branch (see www.austplants.com.au).