Lovely Natives for Winter
Winter is traditionally a quiet time of year in Canberra gardens, and sometimes, a little dreary. With a little planning and thoughtful plant selection however, a winter garden can be as inspiring and aesthetically pleasing as it is in other seasons. I was reminded of this when visiting Cool Country Natives in Pialligo recently. There were more plants than you would imagine in flower, as well as many with vibrant foliage and interesting structure. The following are three such lovely natives:
Eremophila oppositifolia ‘Midnight’, commonly known as twin leaf emu bush, is a medium shrub growing approximately 2m in height and 1m in width. There’s a lot to love about this variety of one of my favourite plants – not least its standout silver green foliage and dainty purple flowers, which adorn its branches for many months, including during the depths of winter!
E. oppositifolia ‘Midnight’ is moderately frost tolerant so therefore should be grown in established gardens or in a protected position such as courtyards or under eaves. Soil needs to be well drained and suited to Australian native plants. Eremophilas tolerate heat, dry conditions and half shade once established, and most varieties respond well to seasonal pruning. They also grow beautifully in pots.
Nectar feeding birds such as Eastern Spinebills adore this plant and insects are not far behind. So I highly recommend including an Eremophila or twenty in your garden palette to nurture local wildlife as much as your state of mind.
Correa reflexa var. ‘Flared Bell’, another personal favourite, is a lovely native shrub to 1m high and 1m wide. This moderate grower suits part sun positions with reasonable drainage and reliable watering until established. Happy plants tolerate periods of dry and are frost hardy.
C. reflexa var. ‘Flared Bell’ is adorned with cheery bright pink flowers with lime green tips during the autumn and winter months. Correas too are frequented by small nectar feeding birds and beneficial insects.
C. reflexa var. ‘Flared Bell’ has many applications including: as a standalone feature plant or dotted throughout the garden landscape, in low-growing hedges, or in dry shady locations.
Acacia howittii prostrate is a low growing form of sticky wattle, a native garden staple. This plant may not flower in winter but its outstanding arching branches with pendulous foliage make it a year-round feature plant, especially during winter. I consider its attractive pale yellow flowers during spring an added bonus to an already worthy plant.
A. howittii prostrate is fast growing and unlike most Acacias, responds well to pruning. For this reason it is often utilised by bonsai artists. It grows in full sun to part shade positions and a range of soil types, including moderately-drained clays. A. howittii and cultivars is frost hardy once established. This low-growing variety lends itself to foreground plantings and as a show-stopping pot specimen.