GARDENING WITH NEIL: Gazanias add colour to the city
ONE of the most noticeable plants to those who drive through Rockhampton is the Gazania.
This showy groundcover has formed a carpet of colour in many of the centre medians from Gladstone Rd and Lower Dawson Rd in the south, Yaamba Rd in the north, to Norman Rd in the east.
This week Teri of The Range complimented the council's parks team for the work on the next median upgrade in George St between Albert and Cambridge Sts. In this median the council has planted an avenue of Magnolia Little Gem that is surrounded by a carpet of Gazanias.
Magnolia Little Gem is a dwarf variety of the Evergreen Magnolia or Magnolia grandiflora. It is a large shrub that flowers from an early age, producing beautiful creamy white and saucer-shaped flowers in spring and summer. Leaves are a classic glossy deep green colour with furry brown undersides forming a nice compact evergreen tree with a dense covering of foliage.
The groundcover that is making many of the medians in our major roadways a pretty picture is the groundcover Gazania. This plant is a member of the family of Composite Daisies. The Gazanias are easily grown in hot full sun positions and flowers in a large range of brilliant colours and bi-colours. But it is the vivid golden yellow flowering varieties that have been a standout this Summer.
Gazanias are native to South Africa and are herbaceous perennials. Some grow in clumping formations while others have adventitious runners and trail over rocks or simply spread grass-like as a ground cover. Gazanias seed very easily and many seedlings appear around the plants. It flowers from late spring to summer.
TIME TO BE WATERWISE
Last Monday Rockhampton Regional Council implemented Level 1 Water Restrictions in Mount Morgan. Recently Mount Morgan's No. 7 Dam had fallen below 50 per cent of capacity, which triggers the implementation of Level 1 Water Restrictions, according to the council's Drought Management Plan.
Mount Morgan residents have long been acknowledged as one of the state's most waterwise communities. The key measure in Level 1 Water Restrictions is that gardens cannot be watered between 9am to 4pm, with the exception of recycled water and bore water.
It should be a goal for gardeners to water out of daylight hours. Maybe it is time for everyone to make your garden water-wise while still retaining a natural beautiful one. There are many ways in which the home gardener can conserve water and maximise the effects of the limited water available.
Mulching is probably the most effective method of conserving ground moisture. Most soil will quickly dry out and develop cracks when it is exposed to direct sunlight. Consequently, more frequent and heavier watering is required to maintain plants.
Mulching will prevent your soil from drying and cracking and it will also help develop a much better root system for your plants. This in turn will give you a healthier and more vigorous plant. This is achieved through the mulch cover maintaining a cool soil surface. Another aspect of mulching is the prevention of weed growth that can draw water wanted by plants in your garden.
Plant selection is another important method of reducing water consumption.
Most gardeners, when visiting a nursery, will find hundreds of beautiful plants that are available. But all plants have different watering requirements. A good example of this can be found in two different Gardenia species. Gardenia florida and Gardenia magnifica, both are small shrubs that have glossy green leaves and double white perfumed flowers, yet the Gardenia magnifica requires up to 10 times more water.
This is true with many other plants available to local gardeners. How many times do you find that you have one plant in your garden that always is wilting yet all other plants look fine? The first thing that usually happens is that you give that plant extra water, instead you may be better off by replacing it with a more suitable and waterwise plant.
In the case of the two Gardenias, one plant could use 1000litres of water more than the other in a year.
Changing a few plants in a garden from water-consuming to waterwise can be as simple as observing, removing, selecting and replanting.
DENGUE FEVER COMFIRMED
A Rockhampton resident has been confirmed as contracting dengue fever.
This weekend, all Rockhampton gardeners need to inspect their gardens and back yards as the garden can often harbour the sites of mosquito breeding.
Danger spots are water in saucers or trays under pot plants, self-watering pots, bowls, basins or any other container for holding water, discarded tyres, birdbaths, and even some varieties of Bromeliads which allow water retention in the leaf arrangements. It should be noted that fish ponds stocked with fish and chlorinated swimming pools pose no threat.
Here are some suggestions to help eliminate the potential mosquito problems in your gardens. Use fine pea gravel in the saucers under the plants. The pot will still drain well, but no free-standing water will remain. Birdbaths should be scrubbed regularly, as by simply tipping the water out of them, larvae and eggs can still be left in the film of water. Old tyres, bowls, tin cans, etc are best being disposed of at the local dump. However, if you wish to retain them, the best solution is to make holes in them to allow the water to drain.
Bromeliads can also pose a problem with mosquitos, but a few drops of Pyrethrum insecticide will kill any mosquito living in them.
One old wives' tale is that trees, shrubs and even grass offer a haven for mosquito breeding, but this is not true. Adult mosquitoes will seek shelter in the vegetation, but will not breed there. It is the responsibility of all gardeners to regularly inspect for mosquito breeding sites within their yard, and to eliminate them immediately.