Sunday, 17 August 2014

Try growing: some under-appreciated local species

The Illawarra is home to many native tree and shrub species that would grow happily in suburban gardens. However, these species are not often available in regular nurseries or featured in magazines or other resources assisting people to identify suitable plants. So it can be hard to get a good idea of what species are 'out there' and how they would look. 

Leon Fuller's excellent book Wollongong's Native Trees identifies a number of species that would work well in suburban gardens, and all of these species can be seen out and about in the Illawarra, on one of the rainforest tracks or other walks in the area, such as Blackbutt Reserve or at Seven Mile Beach. 

Here are a few of the species that Leon Fuller recommends trying (in addition to the Koda featured in my last post):

Native hydrangea (Abrophyllum ornans)
Native hydrangea - still only a baby!
A good sized specimen of this large bush or small tree can be seen on the rainforest walk at the Bulli Grevillea Park. It likes a shaded and sheltered site. Unfortunately it is hard to source, so let me know if you find them for sale anywhere!!

Celery Wood
Another beautiful small tree is the Celery Wood (Polyscias elegans), which is quite rare in the Illawarra. It has an elegant form, pretty bipinnate leaves and masses of purple berries in spring. I haven't got a photo of it at all - it is hard to find - but check it out at this website!

Brush Pepperbush 
Sorry this is not the greatest photo. Brush pepperbush (Tasmannia insipidgrows into a shrub around 2.5 or 3m tall; it has pretty white flowers and edible berries that taste a bit like pepper. While there are other species in the same family that have a stronger flavour, this one's still pretty good in my view. Again it needs a shady moist spot to grow well. Here's a link to some better photos from the Australian National Botanic Gardens

If you are looking to add native trees to your garden, I strongly recommend buying Leon Fuller's book and having a browse for suitable species. You can order copies online from Landcare Illawarra or buy it at the University of Wollongong bookshop.

Happy gardening, after all the recent rain!

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