Some like it hot

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - HOME - Peter Cun­dall

SOME­TIMES we all tend to take some of our most at­trac­tive or heav­ily scented plants for granted. That’s prob­a­bly be­cause many re­main in­con­spic­u­ous for most of the year. Only when they burst into flower or re­lease un­ex­pected bursts of sweet fra­grances do we sud­denly be­come aware that our gar­dens are full of sur­pris­ing, but of­ten hid­den, trea­sures.

I’ve long no­ticed the huge num­ber of beau­ti­ful flow­er­ing plants in Tas­ma­nian gar­dens that are not only easy to grow, but a sig­nif­i­cant few ap­par­ently thrive on ne­glect.

In Au­gust, I be­came aware of a rich, hon­eysweet fra­grance drift­ing through all parts of our gar­den and found a ne­glected, al­most for­got­ten nee­dle- bush hakea ( H. sericea) that had been grow­ing for at least 20 years in a far cor­ner.

No more than a me­tre tall it flopped and spread over a bone- dry bank. Two years ear­lier it had been lopped back to re­move at least half the growth. It had re­sponded amaz­ingly and was now in full bloom.

Deep inside the stiff, nee­dle- like leaves flour­ished the source of the sweet scent. Thou­sands of white, spi­der- like flow­ers, some slightly pink, were massed to­gether in tightly packed clus­ters. This su­perb, half- hid­den dis­play lasted for about a month.

Tas­ma­nia’s mild cli­mate com­bined with typ­i­cal late win­ter and early spring rains is the rea­son why so many of our gar­dens as­ton­ish and de­light many vis­i­tors.

Years ago I grew some rus­sell lupins from a $ 3 packet of seed. They came in a range of colours and, as they re­pro­duced and spread, were clearly able to with­stand com­plete ne­glect.

They have since freely re­pro­duced and ap­peared in odd spa­ces be­tween our or­na­men­tal shrubs and roses. A cou­ple of years ago a few lupins ap­peared in a cor­ner of an ig­nored lawn. The in­va­sion was ap­pre­ci­ated and now a huge drift is hap­pily oc­cu­py­ing a large area that once had to be mown.

All the lupins are now bloom­ing fu­ri­ously, mak­ing some re­cent Queens­land vis­i­tors al­most popeyed with ad­mi­ra­tion and envy. Yet in this state we take these sim­ple but beau­ti­ful plants for granted.

Same with lil­i­ums. For most of the year these plants are ei­ther com­pletely out of sight be­neath the soil, or look­ing mis­er­able. My wife Tina is ob­sessed with them, de­spite never both­er­ing to wa­ter or even feed ours. They don’t just emerge from the soil in spring, the strong, bright green shoots seem to thrust up­wards with al­most des­per­ate en­ergy. Now most of ours are in full, scented, bril­liantly coloured bloom, some al­most shoul­der high.

In fact, the heavy fra­grance of some lil­i­ums is too over­pow­er­ing, mak­ing them un­suit­able for in­door decoration, but they are fan­tas­tic left to bloom freely out in the open gar­den.

When our lil­i­ums have fin­ished bloom­ing we’re left with a bit of a mess for a while, but that’s no big deal.

As stems fi­nally wither it is a quick job to cut them to the ground to be vir­tu­ally for­got­ten un­til next spring.

These tough plants will sur­vive undis­turbed for year af­ter year, the bulbs con­tin­u­ing to mul­ti­ply in the ground.

All they seem to need is per­fect drainage, acidic soil and the dry rest pro­vided by Tas­ma­nia’s sum­mer weather.

BACK­YARD CHARM­ERS: Lil­ium ( right); honey- scented hakea sericea ( above); and rus­sell lupins ( be­low).

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.