CURL’S COOL SIGN

BUCKINGHAM­IAS ARE SPLEN­DID SPEC­I­MEN TREES WHOSE LATE SUM­MER FLOW­ERS SIG­NAL THAT THE WORST OF THE HEAT WILL SOON BE OVER

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

Sub-trop­i­cal cli­mates may not have the four dis­tinct sea­sons of cooler cli­mates, but there is still a very def­i­nite rhythm to the way that our plants be­have through­out the year.

In the heat of sum­mer, I am al­ways very re­lieved to see the early signs of au­tumn. It seems to make the scorch­ing heat, howl­ing wind and ridicu­lous hu­mid­ity a lit­tle eas­ier to bear. Tiny buds form­ing on the camel­lias are al­ways a joy. It will be sev­eral months be­fore they are in bloom, but it’s re­as­sur­ing to know that the process has be­gun.

One sign that you don’t have to look hard for is the bloom­ing of the ivory curl trees (buck­ing­hamia cel­sis­sima). These are ab­so­lutely beau­ti­ful small to medium trees, per­fectly suited to our cli­mate.

Buckingham­ias are beau­ti­ful all year, with lovely glossy fo­liage that is bronze when new and then be­comes rich green. They flower pro­fusely in late sum­mer and into au­tumn, bear­ing masses of large cream gre­vil­lea-like nec­tar-rich flow­ers that birds and bees just love. They are easy to grow, have no weed po­ten­tial, and de­velop a lovely neat habit with a clear trunk and well-shaped canopy with­out the need for prun­ing. They are ever­green and don’t grow too big, reach­ing a height of about 8m in a gar­den. They will be shorter in cooler ar­eas, and taller in shaded sit­u­a­tions.

Al­though they oc­cur nat­u­rally in the moist rain­forests of North­ern Queens­land, they are ex­traor­di­nar­ily adapt­able; there are spec­i­mens which have been grow­ing in the botan­i­cal gar­dens in Melbourne and Ade­laide for more than 100 years. They have been ex­ten­sively planted as street trees in Bris­bane, where they pro­vide wel­come shade.

They will do best in rich, well-drained soil with ad­e­quate wa­ter while they are set­tling in, but are quite drought tol­er­ant once es­tab­lished. They will grow in full sun to part shade.

They grow fairly quickly, and the growth rate will be en­hanced if the con­di­tions are good. So use wa­ter crys­tals in the bot­tom of the plant­ing hole, en­rich the soil with or­ganic mat­ter, and mulch well to con­serve wa­ter and sup­press weeds. Buckingham­ias flower quite young, at about 2-5 years of age. They don’t seem to be both­ered by any pests or dis­eases.

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