Despite the chilly weather my latest incursion around the Park revealed some exciting New Blooms. This solitary small shrub off to the left of the Western decomposed granite track is Hovea Acutifolia. It is an open to straggly shrub up to 1.5M tall, it flowers profusely through winter/spring and likes shade or morning sun with occasional watering. The flowers are not inhibited by shade and in fact have a more intense purple colour. A White version is available. Great for adding a bit of colour in a shady area. To the right is a very interesting/colourful small tree Melacope Rubra syn Evodiaella Muelleri. It is a small tree approx. 3m with open foliage, a corky bark and has flowers that form on the trunk and branches directly. It flowers through Winter and Spring, the Lorikeets love it and it is a food source for the Ulysses butterfly. A protected site from frost and wind is preferable otherwise it will drop some leaves and the remaining leaves will tend to yellow until it warms up again. This fantastic garden tree can be seen just off the cement path down towards the BBQ area. A little bit further on the first flowers can be seen on Grevillea Robusta (Silky Oak). Below is another great plant/small shrub for a shady/protected area, Syzgium Wilsonii. It is a rainforest understory plant that likes protection from frost/wind to protect the flushes of new growth. It has a weeping habit and large leaves that change colour from bright red thru pink to finally green. It has a magnificent red powder puff flower and does best with a bit of additional water. This plant is located to the left of the cement path about half way down. While you are in the area keep an eye open as the first Banksia flower/cone is out as well.
As you may be aware the Nursery is now stocking a wider range of Native plants. To cater for the extra plants an under utilised area has now been opened up so ensure you check out the whole Nursery when visiting. A few pictures below show the facilities and great volunteers that produce the majority of our plants so please support the Nursery ( best range and prices in town) and thus help develop our beautiful Park.
NOW is actually a good time to plant out suitable Native Plants especially the Dry Land Natives from Western Australia eg Grevilleas etc. Western Aust (Southern areas) receives most of it's rain during winter ( they get very little summer rain) and as a result the plants GROWING SEASON is actually winter. An added advantage of planting now is very little follow on watering is needed, the roots will start to develop and the plant is ready to explode in Spring. A quick note on watering NEWLY planted Native Plants, there is an axiom 'water once a day for a week-once a week for a month then once a month for a year "after that the plant is on it's own. The aim is to keep the root ball moist, remember it was watered every day in the Nursery before it was planted. All this is subject to prevailing conditions, less in Winter, more in Summer, the 'stick the finger in the dirt' trick to check moisture levels and of course leaf droop usually means 'water me please'. As promised here is the FIRST semi-technical article-BUYING/SELECTING GOOD POTTED PLANTS an enthusiasts view. Firstly, plants you buy from your local Nursery are probably not LOCAL. Now you have to consider whether they are suitable for your areas climatic conditions, they just got off a truck, they won't be acclimatised or sun hardened, were probably FERTIGATED (irrigated/watered with fertiliser in the water), won't take kindly to not being watered/fertilised regularly, are probably not ready to be planted out immediately because of insufficient root growth in the pot (I like to gently squeeze the pot from the outside and feel some firmness or at least see some SMALL roots out the bottom), if you see the potting mix break up on the surface the roots definitely haven't developed enough throughout the potting mix. The pots/plants could be root bound-very hard when you squeeze the pot (in which case GENTLY tap the pot off to check the roots). Wriggle the stem of the plant and observe around the stem a cm or two out for separation of the potting mix where the plant may have been potted on from a tube (you will see the outline of a square shape) or planted as a 'plug' and the roots haven't spread out/taken in the larger pot, it will fall apart if you try and plant it. These are just a few things to look out for when buying a pot plant, WERE YOU WONDERING WHY YOUR'S DIED. Having said all that, if you come across a plant like any of those above and you really want that particular plant, (let's face it some native plant's are hard to find) then just leave it in the pot for a few weeks to grow on before it is planted out. This serves 2 purposes-the roots develop or the plant will die as it is a weak plant. I NEVER PLANT OUT A POT PLANT IMMEDIATELY it can save you a lot of time and effort and makes getting a refund easier. If it won't survive in a pot it probably won't survive in the ground. Be careful not to over water 'tubes' their potting mix is usually different and will stay wet longer. Hope that was informative, next BLOG will discuss preparation of the garden bed before planting that newly purchased pot plant.