The Native Foyer

Hibiscus “Pete’s Blush” stands proudly as a feature in this garden. It flowers profusely and the blooms are enchantingly delicate.

I am slowly building up a community of native grasses, hibiscus and Westringia.  The canopy is already there. The spiky Native Hibiscus species offer shelter and protection to smaller birds as well as food for pollinators.  The native grasses welcome lizards and frogs.

FEATURE PLANTS:

A straggly bloom from the Grevillea “Sandra Gordon”. We rarely see one that is open and uneaten due to its popularity with local wildlife.
  1. Grevillea “Sandra Gordon” – I fell in love with this plant at a local market. The flowers are spectacular,  bright, bright yellow like they captured the sunlight.  The birds and possums love them too. Since planting this Grevillea has flowered every Winter. Despite carefully watching I rarely see a fully developed flower in bloom. Sometimes they are eaten before they even open. I am hoping that as it matures, more blooms will mean that I get see some of its glory. In the meantime, it feels good to know that it’s feeding my garden friends.
  2. Hibiscus “Pete’s Blush” – an impulse purchase that has paid off over and over again. This plant flowers all through Autumn and Winter. The blooms are delightfully delicate, white with blushes of pink and a deep maroon centre. The shaded location has made it somewhat straggly but it’s thriving. It has made me plant more Native Hibiscus in this “room”.
  3. Hibiscus heterophyllus – I have planted three of these. The two most recent plantings haven’t flowered yet. I got them from a TLC rack at my local council nursery. The third has been in for two years. It is healthy but hasn’t grown much. The flowers are infrequent but worth the wait, a delightful pale yellow touched with pink blush and a deep scarlet centre. Native Hibiscus flowers only last a day, but they are delicate blooms that enchant the gardener and leave one wanting more.
The beautiful bloom of a Hibiscus heterophyllus.

EXISTING STRUCTURE

CANOPY – This area has a canopy formed by Soap Trees (Alphitonia excelsa), Black Wattles (Acacia sp.), She-oaks (Allocasaurina sp.), Spotted Gums, Grey Gums and Ironbarks. The canopy creates dappled shade for most of the day, but the area is exposed to the East by our driveway and the West by the road we live on. This means that it gets good light in the morning and late afternoon.

Our “volunteer” Grevilleas, probably Grevillea banksii, have lovely pink and red flowers that the native birds, possums and gliders love.
The fluffy puffy pompom flowers of the Brisbane Wattle (Acacia fimbriata).

SMALL TREES – there is a well-established Brisbane Wattle (Acacia fimbriata) in the centre of this area that deepens the shade and offers habitat to birds. One season we had a baby Scaly-breasted Lorikeet sheltering in the foliage after it fell from a nest. Every day the parents would make frequent visits to feed it as it tried to practice flying. Eventually it fledged and we haven’t seen it since. The bright yellow flowers on this tree bloom every Winter and the following seed pods feed many species including King Parrots. Apart from this tree there are Grevillea species that are all around the area. I suspect that they are Grevillea banksii. Regardless, they attract lots of birds and bugs to their red flowers. Another small tree in this area is a Callistemon with green bottlebrush flowers that I love! Unfortunately or fortunately depending on how you look at it, I rarely see them because the insects and birds love them. This small tree has been stripped of leaves more than once by bag moths or sawflies, but it always comes back.

These Callistemon “Captain Cook” will eventually create low, bushy shelter for small birds.  The bright red bottlebrush flowers provide an excellent source of nectar too.
This variegated Westringia is hard to find but offers a lovely contrast to the green variety.

SHRUBS – There were two large, established Westringia fruiticosa here when we moved in. One has since perished during the 2 year drought. I replaced it with another Westringia in the hopes of regrowing another good screen from the road. Since then I have planted more Westringia in the space to create low shrubby shelter for birds and insects. The insects love the tiny purple flowers. At my local council nursery I managed to find two variegated Westringias on the TLC rack which I am hoping will create some lovely contrast. I have also planted some small Callistemon species to fill this area out with more bottlebrush blooms and shelter.

GRASSES – This area was dominated by Lantana when we moved in with a few Lomandra grasses. Since we have cleared the Lantana, the Lomandra has spread with some other grass species. Two different Commelina species have appeared too. The native Commelina diffusa has stayed but I have removed the Commelina benghalensis.

VINES – Two vines dominate the vertical space. A frustrating invasive passionfruit vine that doesn’t produce edible fruit and Scrambling Lily. The latter is a lovely endemic species with delicate flowers and edible berries that taste a bit like grass. The birds love them. I remove the passionfruit frequently but it’s naturalized in this area and its seed germinates readily.

SOIL – The soil is covered in a thick layer of debris, mostly from the Allocasaurinas and Eucalyptus trees. This restricts the species that can grow and needs to be cleared from new plantings. The soil underneath is hard and hydrophobic. I tend to dig bigger holes than I need and I use seaweed soil conditioners to help new plants. The soil is slowly improving naturally with biodiverse species forcing their roots through the compacted earth but it means that growth is not as vigorous as I would like. I am sure that the nitrogen fixing Wattles and She-oaks are helping support the soil infrastructure.

UNSUCCESSFUL EXPERIMENTS

BANKSIA – I now know that Banksias love sun and well-drained soil. This dappled shade and compacted clay was never going to work. It’s a shame because we planted three Banksias and all have died.

A Slender Bee Fly visits the large established Westringia which is approximately 3 metres wide and 2 metres high. It flowers consistently all year and provides a screen to give some privacy from the road.

STILL TO COME:

Pictures of the Brisbane Wattle (it’s about to burst into bloom).

Wishing you a joyful garden entrance,

Jane Grows Garden Rooms

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