Buddleia Calodendrum capense
Dombeya calanthe Echium
Magnolia Little Gem Nerium oleander
Polygala Punica granatum Pseudobombax ellipticum
Robinia Pseudo-acacia ‘freesia’
Torrenia Turnea Waterlillies
Dendrobium (Thai species)
Arthropodium (Renga Renga Lilies)
Curcuma (Cape lily)
Habranthus (Rain lilies)
Hemerocallis (Day Lilies)
Campsis grandiflora Dalechampia Mandevillea
Native Hibiscus cv
Salvia 'mystic Spires'
WHAT IS FEATURING IN THE GARDEN IN NOVEMBER:
The dry winter followed by a dry spring has been traumatic for the garden and gardeners. We can try and keep plants alive by mulching and watering plants at ground level to try and keep them alive. It is a great learning curve to see what is surviving and what isn’t. What we plant in the future is important to our garden’s survival during these tough times. The lawns will come back so there is no need to waste water on them.
When most people think of Hibiscus they think of the big blowsy show stoppers. But there are some wonderful, colourful plants from the same family that are invaluable in the garden for their drought hardiness. The native hibiscuses are very diverse; Alogyne hakeifolia has wonderful fine foliage and Alogyne huegelii crinkly foliage both with blue flowers. Hibiscus sp ‘Barambah Creek’ has the most gorgeous grey foliage with pink flowers. Many native hybrids are available which should be sought out. Hibiscus heterophyllus comes with white or yellow flowers and the seed capsules are much loved by the lorikeets. There is a very attractive form called ‘Mt Crosby Cliffs’ which is pink and is from this area. Although these plants are extremely hardy the flowers have a lovely delicate look and flower continuously during the warmer months.
My favourite of the exotic hibiscus is Syriacus which flowers only once a year, in spring but is covered in double lilac flowers with a maroon centre. It forms a shrub of over a metre wide and high and does need to be cut back after flowering. Abutilons, known as Chinese hat plants have flowers that are smaller but come in a huge range of colours and hang down on a medium shrub.
All Hibiscus plants need to be pruned to keep them compact and to induce more flowers. They respond well to mulch. Unfortunately, they are loved by the hibiscus beetle but if you welcome birds into your garden, they should take care of them or you can pinch them off by hand.
Hibiscus are very easy plants to propagate in the warmer months by taking hardwood cuttings with a node. Put in a pot with the node just below the surface of the soil and keep watered.
November is a big pruning month for the shrubs that flower once a year and only in spring. They must be cut back now, so that they will put on growth over summer in order to flower for spring the following year. This is important for the May bush (spiraea), Banksian Rose, Brillantasia, Photinia and Wisteria. I also find that a good time to prune is after good rain so that the plant puts on new growth fairly quickly without any die back. The wisteria, banksian rose, photinia and May bush can all be cut back with electric or battery hedging shears, particularly if they are large. These plants can be cut back by up to two thirds, if they are well established.
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 Mount Crosby was the Drunken Parrot Tree Schotia brachypetala which is from South Africa. After 39 years the tree has reached 10 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.
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
Butterfly on an Oncidium