GARDENING: Autumn provides the perfect conditions for blooms
LAST week I had a chance to visit a couple of gardens that were full of butterflies.
Many plants in these gardens were in their best flowering in years.
My Garden Column a couple of weeks ago created a fair bit of feedback with many readers sending me pictures of plants that are flowering better than ever in their gardens.
So below are some of the shrubs that are making a real impact in Central Queensland gardens.
Callistemon Ebor is an attractive pendulous foliage shrub growing 3-4m x 2m. With attractive pale pink brushes that fade to cream between spring and autumn. Flowers will draw honeyeaters and butterflies to the garden. This shrub is frost and drought hardy and will grow in all parts of Central Queensland.
Clerodendrum ugandense or Blue Butterfly Bush is sprawling shrub with unusual blue flowers. The flowers sport two shades of blue and truly resemble butterflies, especially the way they flock around the plant. The flowers of this plant are attractive to both butterflies and birds. A native of dry East Africa, Clerodendrum ugandense will grow to about 2m tall.
Combretum constrictum or New Guinea Bottlebrush is spectacular Autumn flowering shrub.
The common name of this plant confuses many gardeners, as it is not from New Guinea but actually a native of Africa. This broad-leafed shrub grows to about two metres high and produces masses of orange pom-pom flowers that will attract all nectar feeding birds.
Cuphea Tiny Mice is an evergreen, low growing shrub providing something different for the garden with masses of small mice-like flowers produced during the warmer months.
It is excellent as a specimen plant and is ideal for borders and pots on patios. It handles sun or part shade, is salt tolerant and frost hardy.
Eremophila Summertime Blue is a dense cascading shrub to 1.2m by 1.2m, its large showy blue flowers bloom most of the warmer months of the year. It is suitable for any soil type or texture in full sun or part shade, withstands some waterlogging, and is a salt tolerant and frost hardy. An excellent plant for rockeries, borders and low screens for exposed positions.
Melaleuca symphyocarpa is one of the most unusual of all of Australia’s paperbarks. In its natural conditions, it will grow upwards of 6m high, but in a normal garden situation, it is a rather wiry, sparse shrub growing to around 2.5m high, best positioned at the rear of a large garden.
However, between May and August, this shrub redeems itself by producing a unique display of pom-pom-shaped, bottlebrush-type flowers. I know of four specimens of these plants growing in Rockhampton, one of which is orange in colour, not the common red.
Metrosideros Springfire or NZ Christmas Bush is a compact, broad spreading shrub that can grow up to 3m. This shrub has lime green foliage and produces masses of red-orange bottlebrush flowers during spring and summer. Spot flowering can occur throughout the year. Flowers will attract both birds and butterflies to the garden.
Neofrabicia myrtifolia or Yellow Flowering Tea Tree would one of the most under-utilised perfumed flowering shrubs available to local gardeners. With its large scented yellow flowers mingled with copper-coloured new growth, this plant can create a highlight in the garden. You can expect this shrub to grow up to 4m high and 2m across, and it will tolerate most soil types.
Rhaphiolepis Springtime is a hardy hedging shrub for a full sun position.
This vigorous hybrid produces soft apple blossom pink, star shaped flowers in abundance during spring with lighter flowering during autumn. If left unpruned this shrub will grow about 1.5m high and about 1.5m across. Rhaphiolepis Springtime will grow in a variety of soil types as long as it is not too wet.
Xanthostemon Fairhill Gold is a showy screen shrub growing to around 3m high and 2m wide, with clusters of golden yellow flowers sporadically throughout the year. It will tolerate full sun or part shade and grows best in well-drained soil.