OUR NATIVE FLORA IS AN EXTRAORDINARY TREASURE AND WE CAN DO OUR BIT TO PROTECT IT INTO THE FUTURE
Iwas so relieved to learn last week that a special operation mounted by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and NSW Rural Fire Service was able to preserve the last known remaining wild population of ancient wollemi pines. These trees were seriously threatened by the huge Gospers Mountain fire, but they are safe, at least for now.
Australia is home to more than 24,000 species of native plants, compared with about 1200 species native to England. About 85 per cent of our native species occur here and nowhere else on the planet. Since European settlement in 1788, more than 60 plant species are known to have become extinct. More than 1200 species are listed as endangered.
Native plants provide important food sources for native animals. It’s vital we protect them.
As gardeners, we can all do our bit to help. Thanks to the efforts of nurseries specialising in native plants, there are literally thousands of varieties available to the home gardener.
Plant growers have continued to propagate and trial different species, making a wider range available to the home gardener. Plant breeders have developed cultivars that are perhaps more suitable for ornamental gardens, thanks to compact growth habits, and longer flowering times.
You can incorporate native plants into any style of garden. Because our climate is so diverse there are plants to suit just about any situation.
For the greatest chance of success, choose varieties that are local, or at least from areas with similar climate and soil to your garden. Remember that, if you want these plants to look good, you can’t ignore them completely. So many people seem to think that if a plant is “native” you don’t have to look after it. They will need regular trimming to keep them bushy and tidy. Regular feeding and mulching will promote healthy growth and help avoid severe damage from pests and diseases. While sometimes natural rainfall will be enough to sustain them, you will get healthier, happier plants if they are regularly watered in dry times.
We can’t all grow a wollemi pine but there is no reason why we can’t all grow native plants in our gardens.