GO NA­TIVE

OUR NA­TIVE FLORA IS AN EX­TRA­OR­DI­NARY TREA­SURE AND WE CAN DO OUR BIT TO PRO­TECT IT INTO THE FU­TURE

Central and North Burnett Times - - GARDEN - GREEN THUMB WORDS: MA­REE CUR­RAN Got a gar­den­ing ques­tion? Email ma­ree@ede­nat­by­ron.com.au

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.

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