Magnolia Little Gem Nerium oleander
Polygala Pseudobombax ellipticum
Robinia Pseudo-acacia ‘freesia’
South African Tulip Tree
Dendrobium (Thai species)
Arthropodium (Renga Renga Lilies)
Curcuma (Cape lily)
Habranthus (Rain lilies)
Hemerocallis (Day Lilies)
Drunken parrot tree
RENGA RENGA LILY
WHAT IS FEATURING IN THE GARDEN IN NOVEMBER:
In our subtropical climate spring and summer storms are a natural occurrence. A garden is made up of trees, shrubs, perennials and bulbs. Without the shrubs I feel that many of these delicate and sometimes brittle smaller plants would suffer with the fierce winds that accompany storms not to mention the heavy rain.
I like to think of the garden as having 3 tiers; the tall trees are the canopy giving shade and stature to the garden, then the shrubs give structure and form at a middle level and lastly the ‘delicate’ lower level of the perennials and bulbs which are the pretty, colourful and usually changing features of the whole picture.
When you think about how there are a lot of palms in tropical areas that experience cyclones and fierce storms. These plants are very flexible in high wind situations, usually bending with the wind.
We can use shrubs as a buffer to help protect our garden. Conifers, fiddlewood trees, dombeyas, pendas, umbrella trees, evodias, lillypillies, photinia, duranta and bauhinias to mention a few. These shrubs or small trees have hardwood but are also flexible enough to bend with and help break the wind’s ferocity in a storm.
I have a hedge of Bauhinia galpinii on the western boundary fence which is where our fiercest winds come from and where we are the most exposed. These bushes are also a fire retardant as there is vacant bush on the other side of the boundary. Hedges of box, duranta and photinia also help to buffer the winds.
Gingers, strelizias and heliconias form a nice big clump with their soft canes that bend although the leaves can split, they still look good. Bamboos (the clumping variety of course) can form another interesting and formidable wind break.
BIRDS IN THE GARDEN
There are many trees and shrubs we can grow to encourage the birds into our garden. The first tree that I planted when we moved to our block at Mount Crosby was the Drunken Parrot Tree Schotia brachypetala which is from South Africa. After 35 years the tree has reached four metres and about the same wide and the racemes of red flowers are much loved by the lorikeets. It is very drought tolerant, slow growing and loses its leaves just before flowering in spring.
Another tree that is of similar dimensions is Evodiella muelleri or the Little Evodia which comes from North Queensland. It grows to about the same height as the Schotia and the flowers are a soft pink and sit along the branches of the tree in summer. The lorikeets also love the nectar from this tree and after they have had their fill little green apples form as the seed capsules. This tree will only lose some leaves in dry times.
The flowers of the Umbrella tree Schefflera actinophylla are also much loved by the parrots but unfortunately it seeds in plague proportions and are spread by the birds which can be a nuisance.
Grevilleas are the most popular grown shrubs to attract birds, mostly visited by the honey eaters and the noisy miner birds. The varieties of Grevilleas are enormous and a very important food source for birds during winter when flowering is at its peak.
The red Dombeya, Dombeya cacuminum is also popular with parrots during August when it flowers magnificently.
The King Parrots love the seeds of the book leaf pines Thuja orientalis and also of our native Alphitonia excelsa. These are both small trees, evergreen and do very well in our area.
This is also the month that our Spotted Gums make their presence known. They loose their bark like animals shed their winter coat and it simply falls everywhere. It is a small price to pay however as these 80 foot giants are the pillars of our garden and being big it is hard not to notice their beautiful trunks changing colour throughout the year. At the moment their trunks are blue and the bark dropping off in bits and strips show of their white new skin, which will over summer turn to pink, then to back to blue over winter and the process starts all over again. The bark does add mulch to the lawn as it is thin and easily crushed with the mower and of course to the garden beds.
A lot of palms are shedding fronds and many trees are losing their leaves to accommodate the dry. These can all be mulched and put back onto the garden to give Mother Nature a hand in conserving any moisture.
When the May bush (spiraea), Banksian Rose, Brillantasia, Artemisia, Eupatorium, Rondeletia and Wisteria have finished flowering, this is a good time to prune all the stems that bore the flowers. This will not only tidy them up but also give you more flowers for next spring.
The winter flowering Justicia; Schaueria flavicoma needs a tidy up at this time, I trim all the heads off, giving more light to the seedlings coming through and an opportunity to mulch.
The spring Salvias; Phyllis’ fancy, Waverley, Miniata, Microphylla, Wendy’s Wish etc can all be cut back once they have finished flowering and they will flower again.
After a cut back, it is a good opportunity to mulch.
If you bought bare rooted roses in winter and potted them up like I did, plant them out as soon as the rains begin so that they will get a good start over summer. Keep the graft above the mulch line when planting and water them to settle the roots and spread mulch around.
This is the time that I rescue the roses from the nasturtiums by raking the nasturtiums back and mulching over them and the whole rose bed after planting the new roses out.
IN THE VEGETABLE GARDEN
In the vegetable garden, plant seeds or seedlings of beans, zucchini, tomatoes, egg plants, basil and Chinese cabbage directly into the garden beds. The basil will help keep insects at bay. Lettuce seedlings should be growing well but will appreciate some shade. The vegetable garden will need to be watered each day if it doesn’t rain. The pumpkin and melons should be setting fruit now and you could put more seeds in if you can store them.
IN THE GARDEN