GAR­DEN HINTS

Wangaratta Chronicle - North East Regional Extra - - Front Page - WITH HE­LEN

THERE are over 700 species of gum trees (Eu­ca­lypts and Co­rym­bias) in Australia.

Many are tall, stately trees, suited to large spa­ces and pub­lic parks.

And there are also many beau­ti­ful lit­tle gum trees just right for the home gar­den. Australia’s nurs­ery in­dus­try has come of age. No longer are Aus­tralian plants con­sid­ered suit­able only for ‘ the bush’.

Plant breed­ers have de­vel­oped many pint-sized de­lights.

There are great choices of lit­tle gum trees with in­ter­est­ing bark and fo­liage, tidy growth habits with a “wow” fac­tor. They look great in a na­tive or mixed-species gar­den. Have you thought of grow­ing a gum tree as an an­nual, a pot plant or a hedge?

They are a sur­pris­ingly com­mon sight in Europe and North Amer­ica.

Eu­ca­lyp­tus cinerea, planted at 1m cen­tres, makes a lovely sil­very hedge.

Eu­ca­lyp­tus cae­sia ssp. magna ( Sil­ver Princess) is an es­tab­lished gar­den favourite, and its lit­tle sis­ter, E.

cae­sia ssp. cae­sia has mini-ritchie bark and del­i­cate pink blos­soms.

A smaller ver­sion of Co­rym­bia fi­ci­fo­lia (red flow­er­ing gum), now is avail­able. It is grafted onto dwarf root­stock. It bears huge clus­ters of bright red or or­ange flow­ers around Christ­mas­time.

E. torquata in a tub makes an at­trac­tive liv­ing Christ­mas tree.

For a pleas­ing, nat­u­ral ef­fect, mimic the dif­fer­ing heights of plants in the Aus­tralian land­scape.

Cover the ground with tinies and tufties such as grasses and strappy-leaved plants and scram­blers. This will dis­cour­age weeds and tex­tur­ize the soil. A mid­dle layer of shrubs could in­clude croweas, cal­lis­te­mons, westringeas and cor­reas.

To com­plete the nat­u­ral look, and for height and dap­pled shade, plant one or more lit­tle gum trees.

Some of my favourites are Eu­ca­lyp­tus preis­siana (yel­low flow­ers), E. al­bop­ur­purea (spread­ing, multi-trunked, pink/pur­ple blos­som), E. rho­dan­tha (sil­ver fo­liage and bark, rose-pink blos­som), E. web­ste­ri­ana (grey heartshaped leaves, clus­ters of creamy yel­low blos­som) and E. macro­carpa (a fas­ci­nat­ing shrub, strik­ing sil­ver-grey fo­liage and enor­mous flow­ers and gum­nuts).

with He­len van Riet, AUS­TRALIAN PLANTS SO­CI­ETY (VIC­TO­RIA)

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