DREAMING OF GREEN XMAS
SINCE FLORA AND FAUNA PLAY A BIG PART IN CHRISTMAS CULTURE, WHY NOT START SOME AUSSIE TRADITIONS?
Flora and fauna play a significant role in Christmas culture. A partridge in a pear tree couldn’t be any more English really. Let alone the swans, turtle doves, geese and milking maids. The Australian Christmas has always been about canned beetroot, iceberg lettuce, fat juicy prawns and a few chargrilled snags.
But, in the garden context, we are well out of kilter with the poinsettia as a Christmas flower.
If nothing else – apart from the spiralling white fly that sets up home under its bright red bracts – it hardly flowers here at Christmas.
This is where the anomaly between hemispheres happens.
Here is an opening for swamp bloodwoods and their delightful bib and bub gumnuts left after the bristles of red flowers.
As an extension there are a couple of hybrids that have been developed from the parent called ‘summer red’ (scarlet flowers) and ‘summer beauty’ (pink flowers). These are good-sized garden trees up to about 5-6m high and more Australian than beetroot.
Queensland holly is nothing like the European ilex aquifolium species that typifies Christmas with its sharp pointed margins, glossy foliage and red berries. The only resemblance is the local version (graptophyllum spinigerum) has prickly leaves like its European namesake and has tiny white flowers.
It’s a hardy plant that likes good drainage, regular water and some occasional pruning for shape.
Other Christmas ‘doubles’ have to be the Daintree pine (gymnostoma australainum), is in fact a casuarina that is supposed to be a rare native pine of the Daintree Rainforest region.
It is widely cultivated and would imagine the ‘rare’ tag might no longer be applicable. But a good Christmas tree does it make.
Plant afterwards as a single specimen or a few together to make a 4m high soft pine-like hedge.
Fauna is easy; instead of geese maybe curlew, instead of turtle dove maybe sunbirds, instead of partridge how about a cockatoo and swap the swans for ibis?
That would make for an interesting local Christmas.
Thanks for your support over the year. Have a great Christmas and use your garden in exchange for good health next year.