GAR­DEN HINTS

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

WHEN wat­tles be­gin to bloom around late Au­gust, we know that spring is just around the corner.

Trees and shrubs drip­ping with masses of bright, beau­ti­ful golden rods or balls are a joy.

In 1988 the Golden Wat­tle ( Aca­cia py­c­nan­tha) was of­fi­cially named Aus­tralia’s na­tional flo­ral em­blem.

It bursts into bloom around the end of Au­gust.

Septem­ber 1 has been pro­claimed “Wat­tle Day” in all Aus­tralian States.

There are many wat­tles that are great gar­den sub­jects, and which flower in other sea­sons of the year. Af­ter a long, hot dry sum­mer, their golden flow­ers can brighten up a corner of the gar­den on a cold, grey, autumn day.

There are many choices - there are ap­prox­i­mately 960 species of Aus­tralian wat­tles.

About one- third of all Aus­tralia’s wat­tles flower in win­ter.

Some wat­tles can flower at any time when con­di­tions for flow­er­ing and seed pro­duc­tion are op­ti­mal. These op­por­tunists have adapted over mil­len­nia to Aus­tralia’s less- than- pre­dictable cli­mate.

They are in­dige­nous to dry­land areas where an­nual rain­fall is var­ied and ir­reg­u­lar.

A par­tic­u­lar fa­vorite of mine is Aca­cia jib­berdin­gen­sis ( Wil­low- leafed Wat­tle), which flow­ers pro­fusely about six weeks af­ter a good soak­ing rain.

Its lovely golden rods are well- dis­played amongst fine, wil­lowy fo­liage.

It can flower for up to two months and sev­eral times a year.

It is frost hardy to mi­nus 7° C.

It is long- lived, and re­sponds well to hard prun­ing.

It makes a lovely spread­ing small tree up to 3 me­tres high x 4 me­tres spread.

A note on al­ler­gies: Wat­tles are not a ma­jor cause of wind- borne spring al­ler­gies.

The cul­prits are flow­er­ing grasses, with an­nual rye­grass the most com­mon.

Wat­tle pollen is heavy, and just falls to the ground.

The main pol­li­na­tors of wat­tles are in­sects, which crawl around on the flow­ers.

Grasses on the other hand, rely on wind to spread their pollen.

You can check out the sci­ence at: www.abc.net.au/news/health/2015-09-23/dont-blame-the-Wat-tle/6791396.

PHOTO: He­len van Riet

BRIGHT BLOOM: Aca­cia Jib­berdin­gengis.

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