Boronia

Boronia

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

In lots of ways I think of this as the native Daphne. Small, difficult, subtle, and then there is this show stopping fragrance that knocks you over and you WANT one.

The boronia with the best fragrance is Boronia megastigma known as Brown Boronia. This should be the floral emblem for the Hawthorn Football Club, with dark brown petals on the outside contrasting with bright yellow on the inside. Every organ of the flower has scented oil glands (the source of the essential oils for the perfume trade) and the fragrance is superb. There are numerous cultivars of this Boronia, all have pretty flowers and a lovely scent, look for ‘Heaven Scent’; ‘Jack Macguire’s Red’ and ‘Harlequin’.
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Callistemons (Bottlebrushes)

Callistemons (Bottlebrushes)

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

One of the most profuse flowering of all our native plants, the bottlebrush is both beautiful and tough. Coping with waterlogging and drought, it is an easy plant to grow in your garden, providing colour and habitat for wildlife. Callistemons vary from small shrubs to small trees and everything in between. Colours range from white and cream through to pale pinks, brilliant reds and purples. There are over 40 species and an ever-increasing number of cultivars and hybrids to choose from. Callistemons generally bloom spring to early summer and the flowers hang around for quite some time.
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Encouraging native beneficial insects

Encouraging native beneficial insects

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

A healthy garden is full of life, from deep in the soil to the tree tops there should be fungi, bacteria, spiders, insects, worms, and innumerable other living creatures. These all cohabit in a generally harmonious way. Sometimes, however, a problem arises and the balance is temporarily upset. Reaching for an insecticide spray when aphids appear on your tender rose buds will often make the problem worse in the long run. Most insecticides are not prejudiced, they will kill everything, both the aphids and their natural predators.
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Flowering Gums (Corymbia ficifolia)

Flowering Gums (Corymbia ficifolia)

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

This is a fairly generic term, but commonly refers to Corymbia ficifolia and all the various grafted cultivars of this genus.

The original species Corymbia ficifolia is a sturdy tree from W.A., with thick green leaves and very variable height, from as low as 2m to as tall as 12-15m. When flowering it is an absolute mass of brilliant red to orange blossom. These are followed by large woody gum nuts. They cope very well with dry windy conditions, but don’t tolerate hard frosts, waterlogging or humidity. Native birds absolutely love these trees, especially lorikeets.
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Indigenous Gardens

Indigenous Gardens

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

We sometimes speak to customers who are a little confused about what exactly an indigenous plant is. Yes, they are all Australian Natives, however the definition is a little more detailed. Specifically, indigenous plants are those that occur naturally in your local area. Obviously this term will refer to different plants according to where you live.
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Insect Hotels

Insect Hotels

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

Beneficial insects are insects you want in your garden, either for pollinating or for predating on pest insects. To encourage them into your garden you can provide them with nesting and hibernating sites, if a garden strewn with dead branches isn’t your thing, you may prefer to add in an insect hotel. These are particularly useful for solitary bees and solitary wasps.
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Kangaroo Paw (Anigozanthos)

Kangaroo Paw (Anigozanthos)

Kangaroo paws

There are 12 different Kangaroo paws, 11 different Anigozanthos species and one Macropidia fulginosa. All are from Western Australia. Many of the named cultivars available from the nursery are hybrids of these different species. For the purpose of the home gardener, it is easier to divide them into tall growing Kangaroo Paws and short growing Kangaroo Paws.
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Lawn Alternative Planting Options

Lawn Alternative Planting Options

Lawn alternatives are a group of plant species far more suited to our growing conditions than traditional lawns. They can be used as a beautiful and practical substitute for your open spaces. So why not plant species that require little to know additional irrigation, look great, and are better for the environment. Who wants to spend their free time mowing? Here are some great lawn replacement ideas to get you thinking…

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Lawn Alternatives

Lawn Alternatives

Vast expanses of patchy, dead and weed infested lawn areas taking up space in your backyard? Are you a slave to the drone of a lawnmower on your day off? Instead you could be out in your garden enjoying your own private space, a space tailored to your needs and aesthetic style. Escape the mundane uniformity of an artificial, vegetative mat and enjoy some of the visual and aromatic delights the natural world has on offer. You are only limited by your imagination when it comes to finding an alternative for all that dull lawn.

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Living With Possums

Living with possums isn’t always easy, but there are a few things we can all do to live in harmony with possums in our shared urban spaces. Let’s face it… we are never going to get rid of them all together, and why should we? They were here long before we were, and it is our destruction of their habitat that has forced them into our houses and our gardens. So, what steps can we take to make sure we can all get along together?

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Nestboxes

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

Due to the removal of native trees across Australia for building, logging, agricultural or firewood purposes, millions of natural tree hollows are lost every year. The devastation is particularly apparent in urban environments, where the loss of established trees has seen a dramatic decline in native fauna over the last fifty years due to a lack of appropriate habitat and nesting sites. Even if you live in an area with quite large trees, hollows usually take over 100 years to develop. Thus it may be many years before appropriate nesting / roosting sites are available for many species. It is this lack of habitat that places significant stress on our native animal populations, and can result in once common garden residents becoming rare or non-existent in our suburbs.
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Pruning Australian Natives

Pruning Australian Natives

With the continually growing and improving range of Australian native plants available, the days of the scrappy Australian native plant garden are behind us. The range of new cultivars (and the old favourites), like many plant varieties, benefit from pruning. Pruning promotes denser growth and better flowering. The advantages of pruning can be even greater natives as the pruning removes the large woody seed capsules many natives produce after they have flowered. This process requires large amounts of energy from the plant at the expense of producing more flowers and new growth. The type of pruning depends on the growth habit and flowering of the shrub or tree, but there are some general rules to follow. The timing of pruning is generally after flowering, although some tend to spot flower throughout the year.

Fine foliage and flowering shrubs

These may be regularly pruned lightly all over to promote dense bushy growth. Some fast growing shrubs will tend to open out underneath with a lot of dead, twiggy growth. This should be pruned out to clear the main stems. Some species will respond well to heavy pruning into old wood (such as Melaleucas), however other species will not re shoot. If in doubt prune back one branch and wait to see if it re shoots before pruning the rest of the shrub. Sprawling and scrambling shrubs may get a lot of dead growth towards the centre of the shrub. By pruning this out you can expose the main curving stems and lightly prune the foliage at the tips.

Other species, like Alyogyne huegelii benefit from early formative pruning to encourage a dense habit. This denser habit lends itself well to hedging and helps prevent branches splitting off in windy conditions. Prune late spring into early summer – you will lose some flowers because this plant always seems to have a few on it – but you will cut off the long sappy growth to shorter more sturdy lengths, and produce a much better plant as a result.

Large flowered shrubs with woody capsules

These include shrubs such as Grevilleas, Hakeas, Banksias and Callistemons. These should have the flowering stems pruned back to just behind the flower as the flowers finish. The new growth branches out from this point, resulting in a denser shrub and increased flowering. Pruning off the flower stems prevents the woody capsule from forming, allowing energy to go into new growth. Similarly, if you don’t want the masses of large gum nuts on the currently popular flowering gum (Corymbia ficifolia and all its cultivars), then prune off the dead flowers after flowering. The tree will then put energy towards leaf growth instead of gum nuts.

Native grasses

Most of the Dianellas and Lomandras don’t need pruning for the first several years, but then benefit from a periodic prune (3-7 years) to keep fresh. Prune once any risk of frost is past (do not prune in summer). A simple rule is to cut back to about half the height of the plant. They look good if cut back into a neat ball shape. You need SHARP secateurs. Feed lightly after pruning. It can be a bit of a tedious job, but you only do it every few years and the fresh new growth is well worth it.

The Poa species can be cut back almost any time except summer, whenever they look shabby, you can cut them back fairly hard, clearing away all the old dead growth and promoting fresh new growth.

Wahlenbergia communis (Tufted Bluebell)

Wahlenbergia communis: This graceful perennial ground cover, native to all Australian mainland states, grows to 40cm high and 30cm wide with suggested planting spacing of 20cm. It has blue green foliage that is tufted at the base of the plant and spreads out as it grows giving a relaxed form. From late spring through to early autumn it produces elegant bright clear blue 5 petalled star shaped flowers that are butterfly attracting providing food for insectivorous birds.

It prefers well drained soils and full sun. Despite its delicate appearance Wahlenbergia is remarkably tough, probably due to a thick main root that allows its top growth to die off in extremes of cold and hot temperatures and reshoot when conditions are more favourable. It has a lifespan of up to 5 years and can be pruned severely in winter.

It forms part of the community of Western Basalt Plains Grasslands that is threatened by the expansion of housing development around Melbourne. The Wurundjerri people ate the flowers fresh.

Wahlenbergia can be mass planted, used in rockeries and cottage gardens or grown in containers. It looks gorgeous contrasting with other grassland plants especially grasses such as Themeda and Austrodanthonia.

There have been various cultivars released of the native Bluebells, combining different flower form with all the other desirable characteristics of this species.
Blue Mist: doubled flower form
Fairy Mist: single pink flowers
Sky Mist: Sky blue single flowers