Garden Matters

Spring is here, with all the beautiful blossoms on the flowering, ornamental trees, such as “Prunus x blireiana” one of the flowering plums, with masses of pink, double flowers in late winter, early spring that have a subtle, delicious scent!  Bears purple/green foliage throughout the warmer months before turning bronze in autumn.  Growing to 4m in height, it is an excellent specimen and shade trees for smaller gardens, or planted en masse for a stunning effect.  Another beautiful variety of the flowering plum that has rich red, almost black foliage in summer is “Prunus pissardi  Nigra”  with delightful light pink single single flowers in the spring, and is very hardy!  Grows to 4m so is ideal for small gardens also but would look stunning,  lining a dive-way!  Another small tree, which I love and have growing in my garden is Cercis Canadensis  (American Redbud) which is also deciduous, and in spring, has tiny pink flowers all along the stems, before bursting with green, heart-shaped leaves in late spring, followed by ornamental pods!  There are so many gorgeous ornamental trees around and it is hard to choose, so keep a look-out for specimens around your area!

Attracting bees**** Beesconsider a herb garden full of thyme, sage, marjoram, lemon balm, borage and oregano to be a welcome mat to the rest of the garden and, in fact, without bee-enticing flowers near fruit trees and vegetables from the cucurbit family, the harvest may be very poor!  Bees are discerning creatures though and won’t just go to any blossom.  They are particularly enamoured by those that are blue, purple or yellow, and will almost totally ignore the red ones, as it’s a colour that they can’t see well!  And they can’t help but swoon over any flower with a sweet fragrance and heavily laden with pollen and nectar.

Attracting Native Bees****   There are many species of native bees in Australia that hang out in the garden in the warmer months from September to March.  While quite a few of these are stingless, those that aren’t are mostly non-aggressive.  Native bees have the most fabulous names and include the blue banded bee, teddy bear bee, carpenter bee, stingless social bee and the leafcutter bee, which many rose growers will know from their tell-tale calling card!  Some native bees are capable of buzz pollination.  This is when they clamp their legs onto the flowers of plants, such as chillies, tomatoes, capsicum and eggplants, then contract their flight muscles so vigorously that the flower has no choice but to release its pollen.  Some bee attracting plants are Payne’s thryptomene, Snake vine, Westringia fruticosa, Scaevola humilis, salvias and much more!

Attracting birds***** Australia has about 1,000 plant species that rely on birds for pollination, whereas Europe and North Africa don’t appear to have any and North America has just a handful.  The plants that have adapted to appeal to nectar-feeding birds, such as honeyeaters and lorikeets, are tube-shaped flowers or have large, protruding stamens.  They have flowers that are mostly red, pink or orange, all colours that birds can see clearly.  Their flowers are strong enough to hold a bird’s weight and they are designed so that, as the bird is busy lapping at the nectar, the pollen automatically attaches to its head ready to be delivered to the next flower!  Some bird-attracting species are Kangaroo Paws, Grevilleas, Banksia, Bottlebrush, salvias and so much more!

Grevillea “Strawberry Sundae”  is an exciting new grevillea hybrid ideal for small gardens.  It forms a shrub to 1 metre x 1.5 metres with a compact growth habit.  For most of the year “Strawberry Sundae” produces pinkish, cream bird attracting flowers with bright red tips, which are displayed at the end of long stems.

SPRING is such an exciting time in the garden, with bulbs flowering,  deciduous trees bursting with colour and new foliage, plants flowering and the list goes on, but it is also a busy time, what with weeding, planting, fertilising and mulching!  So until next month, HAPPY GARDENING!