Friday, November 30, 2007

A burst of native colours in my garden

When we first moved here five years ago, we planted a whole lot of native shrubs and trees along the edges of the garden. Then the drought hit. Some plants survived, others didn't, and most just scrambled along, not doing much. This year, with the little bit of early summer rain we have had, they suddenly sprang into action. I hope that the La Nina weather phenomenon that has started to develop over the Pacific Ocean will deliver more summer rains this year, as the years of drought have left a dehydrated and struggling landscape. It certainly seems like nature is sensing a change!

Many trees have shot up, a lot of the bushes have grown to a reasonable size, and there are flowers on a range of native shrubs. I particularly like the varieties with bottle brush flowers such as the lemon bottle brush (left) and the more common red bottle brush (bottom image). The shrub with the smallish purple brushes and tiny spiky leaves pictured on the right turned out to be a real surprise. I had planted five of those bushes, and they all looked like they might die two years ago.

Given the size of our three acre garden, I simply cannot water everything extensively, so these little things just got a can of water every now and again to keep them alive. Boy, did they reward me for my effort this year! The shrubs are all about a meter fifty high and covered in delicate purple blossoms.

Then there are a number of shrubby things with smallish white flowers which look like the bush is covered in snow (very befitting for somebody like me from the Northern Hemisphere finally getting used to the blistering heat of an Australian Christmas!). The eucalypt trees around our place are also starting to show their true forms - many change the shape and size of their leaves when they grow out of their juvenile stages.

Throughout the drought, the most reliable native shrubs that would still deliver plenty of blossoms turned out to be grevilleas. They propagate easily through cuttings. I have also tried my hand at propagating wattles and eucalypts - both grow best from seeds which I have collected from trees around our place and in the area. A very informative website on native plants, where they grow best and how to propagate them is Corrine's Mallee Native Plants. I find it incredibly rewarding to grow and plant my own shrubs and trees, and after having had some success, I am hooked!


  1. I grew native seedlings from seeds for a few years for a group called Trees for Life here in Adelaide. I often wonder how many of them have survived the brutal dry as they seek to establish on land here in South Australia.

    Beautiful photographs.

  2. These are fabulous results, I hope that you are right and that nature is sensing a change, It is snowing here today - a month earlier than last year! so perhaps there is a change, time will tell.