PLANT OF THE MONTH – MARCH 2011
DRUMSTICKS OR CONE FLOWERS?
Isopogon is a genus of some 35 species and members of the Proteacae
family and another unique Australian native.
The generic name come from the Greek “isos” meaning equal and “pogon”
meaning beard referring perhaps to the hairs on the fruit or to
those on the tips of the flowers.
The majority of the Isopogon species is found in the south west
corner of Western Australia where so many of our brilliant natives
Some species occur naturally in eastern Australia, including Isopogon
ceratophyllis (horny conebush) which is native to the Furneaux Islands
in Bass Strait, but not to mainland Tasmania.
Most Isopogons are small to medium sized rounded shrubs growing
up to two metres in height and are ideally suited to suburban gardens.
The very attractive and unusual 50mm diameter flowers are formed
as globular heads on the end of a branch as are the fruit.
The stiff and on some species prickly leaves are 40 to 50mm long
and divided into many narrow segments, which are very tough and
resistant to blemishes.
Seed is plentiful and easy to collect falling easily from the “cones”
when picked almost ripe and placed in a paper bag to dry. Seeds
are easy to raise providing a very course, well drained seed raising
mix is used.
Care must be taken with seedlings to avoid “damping off” hence the
need for a course potting mix with plenty of washed quartz sand
Isopogons grow happily in Launceston being frost and drought tolerant
once established. They require a sunny and very well drained course
and neutral soil.
The Isopogon pictured in a Launceston garden is named “Candy Cones”
and is a hybrid cross, I. Formosus and I. Latifolius and is quite
spectacular with its large pink flower heads, which are at their
peak in late spring.
Other species and varieties that are sometimes available at Tasmanian
nurseries include I. Formosus and I. Anemonifolius.
Isopogons are different and beautiful shrubs that will be a real
conversation piece in any Tasmanian garden.
PLANT OF THE MONTH APRIL 2011
Correas are among the most popular native plants in Tasmanian gardens
and public places. Their popularity is well deserved for a number
of reasons. They produce beautiful bell-shaped flowers in winter,
when colour is at a premium; all species and varieties withstand
frosts and many of them are tolerant of salt spray; birds are attracted
to them; they tolerate part shade and full sun; a variety of colours,
including colour combinations is available; and finally, they are
available as erect shrubs and as ground covers.
The genus Correa is a small one, with only 12 species, although
a number of varieties and hybrids are also commercially available.
Apart from one species which occurs in WA, correas are found naturally
only in south-eastern Australia, including Tasmania which has four
Correa alba (white correa) is found naturally around Tasmania’s
coastline, growing just above high water mark and withstanding the
full force of winds and salt spray. It is a shrub which grows to
a height of around 1.5m but a low growing form suitable as a ground
cover is available as is a pink flowered, prostrate cultivar called
Correa alba var. pannosa “Western Star”.
Correa reflexa, another species native to Tasmania, is a popular
plant in gardens. Flowers may be greenish yellow, red or red with
Correa ‘Marian’s Marvel’ which has pink flowers with green tips
prefers a shaded site.
One of the most popular correas is C. pulchella (the species name
means “small and beautiful”), a neat shrub to about 50cm tall with
pink to orange flowers, a beautiful species which is suitable for
even a small garden.
A species with interestingly shaped flowers is C. bauerlenii, known
as the chef’s hat correa because its pale green flowers resemble
that piece of headwear. This species, which grows to about 1.5m
tall, prefers at least part shade.
Correas are readily available from nurseries and are quite easy
to propagate from cuttings.
Like most native plants, they need well drained soil and many of
them benefit from pruning after flowering.
PLANT OF THE MONTH – MAY 2011
The myrtle family, named after the genus Myrta (not represented
in Australia), contains several thousand species, many of which
are of commercial significance. Cloves and allspice, guavas and
some of the world’s largest trees (eucalypts) are all members of
this large and important family.
Many members of the family such as the Callistemons (bottle brushes)
and Leptospermums (tea trees) are popular garden plants.
The genus Calytrix is not as well known as those mentioned above,
but deserves to be more widely included in gardens. Of the 76 Calytrix
species most are native to WA and many produce brilliantly coloured
flowers. Unfortunately the WA species do not normally flourish in
the eastern states and are not readily available in Tasmania.
Only one species, C. tetragona or common fringemyrtle, is native
to Tasmania. This species is usually a shrub to about 1.5m tall,
with a profusion of attractive white star-like flowers over spring
and summer. There is also a prostrate form, useful as a rockery
plant, and forms with flowers in various shades of pink are sometimes
Each of the sepals (which lie below the petals) has a long awn
(hair) attached to its tip and these give the flowers a distinctive
“fringed” appearance. After the petals are shed the awned sepals
provide an interesting display.
White-flowering shrubs of common fringemytle can be seen in the
Trevallyn Nature Recreation Area e.g. along the South Esk track
between Aquatic Point and Trevallyn Dam and in many other parts
of the state.
All Calytrix species well-drained, preferably sandy, soil and full
sun. Propagation is easy from cuttings and plants should be available
from nurseries which stock Australian natives. Common fringemyrtle
is frost-hardy and should be a useful plant for gardens near the
coast as it grows naturally in proximity to the sea.
PLANT OF THE MONTH – JUNE 2011
Tasmania has eight species of Leptospermum, commonly known as teatrees,
five of which are endemic to the state (i.e. they occur naturally
only here). They are part of the family Myrtaceae, which also includes
our Eucalypts and many other important groups of shrubs and trees.
Teatrees make excellent garden plants, especially the endemic autumn
teatree, Leptospermum grandiflorum, which is found naturally on
the east coast in areas such as the Lake Leake Highway, Cherry Tree
Hill on the Tasman Highway and on the Freycinet and Tasman Peninsulas.
The species was named by George Loddiges, a renowned English horticulturalis
and scientist, who developed a huge nursery which grew plants from
stock imported from all over the world, including Tasmania. As well
as establishing the nursery, the largest hothouse in the world at
the time and an arboretum, he produced between 1817 and 1833, twenty
volumes of the journal Botanical Cabinet which contained 2000 coloured
engravings. It was in this journal in 1821 that he described Leptospermum
The specific name, grandiflorum (from the Latin grandis florum,
meaning large flower) aptly describes the flower of this plant which
is 2.5 to 3 cm across.
The autumn teatree flowers profusely in the autumn, as the name
suggests and the flowers vary from white to shades of pink. It is
a large shrub growing up to 5m. The foliage is an attractive greyish
green and the seeds are contained in a large five-celled woody capsule.
This species can be used as a very attractive feature shrub or
as a screen or hedge in a sunny to semi-shaded position. Once established
it will withstand dry conditions.
It can be propagated easily from seed or cuttings or purchased
from nurseries which specialise in Tasmanian natives. Forms with
pink or white flowers and grey or green foliage are available.
PLANT OF THE MONTH - JULY 2011
Climbers add another dimension to the garden by providing height,
especially in limited areas and narrow walkways that are difficult
to landscape. They also provide colour and contrast to existing
trees and shrubs as they climb and scramble amongst them. They can
become living boundaries when grown over fences. Trained on a trellis,
they can screen or divide courtyards, play areas, barbeque areas,
water tanks and compost heaps. They can be used as shade, to shelter
a room or patio from wind and sun. There are several indigenous
Tasmanian climbers that would be happy in most gardens.
Billardiera are climbing plants found only in Australia. They belong
to the Pittosporum family. Commonly referred to as ‘Apple Berry’
there are seven species occurring naturally in Tasmania. Billardiera
longiflora ‘ Purple Apple Berry’ is a woody, twining climber with
narrow dark green leaves. The pale green tubular shaped flowers
in spring and summer provide nectar for birds. Flowers are followed
by a stunning display of oval shaped, deep purple berries. These
can last from mid summer through autumn. They are easily grown in
a cool, moist, semi-shaded position and are hardy enough to cope
in full sun in cooler areas. Good drainage is essential.
Billardiera mutabilis or ‘Green Apple Berry’ will scramble over
and through other plants. It has furry, sometimes silky, yellow-green
leaves with wavy margins. The greenish- yellow, bell shaped flowers
in spring/summer are followed by berries of the same colour. The
mature fruits are juicy, and have a flavour similar to stewed apples
hence its name by the early settlers as the ‘Apple Dumpling Berry’.
It is quite a hardy plant and grows well in part shade or full sun
on sandy soil or clay. Propagation of Billardiera can be difficult
from seed, as they may not germinate for many months, however it
does strike well from cuttings.
Other well known climbers that are native to Tasmania are some species
of Clematis. There are six species of Clematis that are found in
Tasmania. Clematis aristata ‘ Old Man’s Beard’ is a vigorous climber
with large leaves and masses of creamy-white star-like flowers in
spring followed by fluffy seed heads. Juvenile foliage is purplish
with silver markings. A semi -shaded location that is moist and
well drained will ensure good growth. Prefers to grow to the top
of a support and then spread horizontally. It will provide an impressive
display on a trellis.
Clematis microphylla ‘ Small-leafed Clematis’, is a hardy plant,
with narrow leaves, that tolerates dry conditions. It grows well
in light sandy soil or clay but must have good drainage. Full sun
or part shade. A great climber for coastal gardens that can also
be used as a ground covering plant. Clematis seeds are a food source
for birds and are also used in nest construction. Propagation of
Clematis is from fresh seed or cuttings that can be slow to strike.
Carefully chosen native climbing plants can make a spectacular addition
to your garden, providing stunning displays and, best of all, food,
shelter and nesting sites for birds.
PLANT OF THE MONTH – AUGUST 2011
What's an Australian garden without banksias? They can be grown
in sites throughout a garden where it may be difficult to get other
plants to grow. In their natural range banksias grow in a variety
of habitats that include poor sandy/gravelly soils, in seasonally
wet to waterlogged sites and in dry rocky places. This versatility
means it is possible to find a number of species to plant in those
hard-to-use spots in our gardens, or indeed anywhere you can make
Surely the banksia is one of Australia's iconic genera. Banksias
have appeared on bank notes, stamps, in books for both children
(we all remember the bad, bad banksia men in Snuggle Pot and Cuddly
Pie by May Gibbs) and adults and feature spectacularly in botanical
Some 78 species occur in Australia along with a number of sub-species,
natural hybrids and varieties. All but one species are endemic to
Australia with over 80% occurring only in Western Australia (61
species). Banksia dentata (the tropical banksia) grows across the
top end of Australia and into New Guinea and on some of the islands
to the west. In addition, the horticultural industry provides interesting
cultivars for gardeners, particularly for small gardens where larger
shrubs or trees are not an option. They include prostrate forms,
small forms that can be grown in condensed spaces as well as size
and colour variations in floral spikes.
Banksia flowers have the added advantage of attracting native birds
to feed on the nectar or on the seeds. The fertilised flowers develop
into those classical woody spikes (often referred to as cones) of
different sizes and shapes that remain on the plant for some considerable
Tasmania has two native species with a third that grew on some
of the Bass Straight Islands now presumed extinct. Banksia marginata
(silver banksia) is widely distributed throughout the state from
sub-alpine (above 1000 m) to coastal and from wet to dry forests
and woodlands. It occurs in many sizes and shapes (from small shrubs
of 0.5m to trees of 12m) with a range of leaf sizes and shapes and
flower spikes. They grow well in gardens in and around Launceston.
The other Tasmanian native species, Banksia serrata (saw banksia)
is restricted to two locations, one at Sisters Hill near Rocky Cape
and on Flinders Island. Its common name comes from the shape of
the leaf margin which is strongly and coarsely serrated. It grows
from a shrub to small tree (up to 12 m) with thick gnarled and twisted
branches to provide a classical old man banksia shape.
The species now considered extinct in Tasmania, Banksia integrifolia
(coast banksia), grew on King Island and Long Island off Wilsons
Promontory (as a lone tree). It grows well in the Tamar Valley,
usually as a tree of up to 25 m although smaller, bushy forms are
Many of the Western Australian species have spectacular and showy
flower spikes. Banksia menziesii (firewood banksia), a shrub to
about 2-3m tall, grows well in Tasmania in sandy soils. As the flowers
open in autumn to winter they release wiry golden styles from the
lower part of the spike with red unopened flowers tipped with silver
in vertical rows above to give an acorn shape.
An interesting one for wet to seasonally waterlogged sites is Banksia
robor (swamp or wallum banksia) that grows in the wallum country
in coastal SE Queensland and N coast of NSW. It has a very broad
and large leaf (30 x 10 cm) and grows to about 2 m. The flower spikes
are large and bluish-green in colour in the early stages but turn
yellow-green as the flowers open.
With a little bit of research on the internet or in nurseries you
should be able to find a banksia that will suit any aspect of your
garden and provide interesting displays of sizes and forms as well
as a variety of colours and shapes in leaves and flower spikes.
Plant one today and enjoy.
NATIVE PLANT OF THE MONTH FOR SEPTEMBER
WATTLES FOR SMALL GARDENS.
Spring in Tasmania brings with it some magnificent displays of
our beautiful wattles. One of them, Acacia pycnantha, is our national
floral emblem and the green foliage and golden flowers have become
Australia’s official colours. In 1992 September 1st was officially
named Australia –wide as Wattle Day and has been celebrated as such
in each subsequent year. September is therefore a good time to consider
planting one or more examples of this delightful genus.
The name “Acacia” is derived from the Greek acis, a thorn, although
most Australian species are not thorny. Acacias belong to the family
Fabaceae sub family Mimosaceae and there are some 954 species currently
recognised as native in Australia.
Some wattles are small shrubs whilst others grow into large trees.
A. melanoxylon whose common name is blackwood and from which magnificent
blackwood timber is sourced, grows into a large tree with a very
long life span. Other popular wattles grown in suburban gardens,
such as A. baileyana, cootamundra wattle, and A. pravissima, ovens
wattle, grow rapidly into small trees which usually have a fairly
short life span of 15 to 20 years.
However, there are many suitable acacias for even a small suburban
garden, such as A. myrtifolia, redstem wattle, which is a shrub
to 1 to 2 metres in height. Its reddish branches are an attractivefeature
even when the plant is not in flower.
Over recent years nurseries have developed dwarf and prostrate
forms of wattles suitable for even the smallest spaces. For example
A. pravissima and A. baileyana (pictured) are available as wonderful
prostrate plants very suitable for rockeries and as ground covers.
Similarly A. fimbriata, A. pravissima and A.baileyana have been
developed as dwarf wattles growing to a height of 1.5 to 2 metres
as vibrant, compact shrubs with a brilliant golden display in spring.
Novelties which have become available fairly recently are wattles
with flower colours other than gold, such as the wonderful Acacia
leprosa ‘Scarlet Blaze’. This beautiful variety was discovered in
bushland north-east of Melbourne as a single plant in a population
of Acacia leprosa with the normal golden flowers. Fortunately its
significance was recognised and material was collected from it for
propagation. The wild plant is now, unfortunately, dead.
Add some brilliant colour to your garden with these newly developed
wattles or more traditional ones, many of which are available from
NATIVE PLANT OF THE MONTH FOR OCTOBER 2011
The family Lamiaceae, so-called because the flowers generally have
two lips, includes many species of commercial importance. Some,
including sage, mint and lavender, are sources of essential oils.
These species and others including rosemary are also raised as culinary
herbs. Many representatives of the family are cultivated as garden
plants e.g. species of Salvia, Ajuga and Leonotis
Quite a number of species from this family are native to Tasmania
and several of these are endemic to the state. One genus, Westringia,
has four species native to Tasmania, three of which are found nowhere
else in the world, and all members of the genus are endemic to Australia.
All four species of our Tasmanian Westringias are shrubs with attractive
white flowers whose petals are usually spotted with purple and often
have a splash of yellow at the throat. Flowering is usually profuse
and lasts for much of the year. They are all very hardy, being tolerant
of a wide variety of habitats and soil types and temperatures. They
are excellent for dry areas and some species will withstand salt
spray, making them very useful in seaside gardens. Pests and diseases
do not seem to be a problem.
The two Tasmanian species which are most often found in gardens
are W. rubiaefolia and W. angustifolia. Both grow to a height of
about 1m and respond well to pruning.
Many of the mainland species are similarly hardy and several are
likely to be available in nurseries around Launceston.
Westringia fruticosa is a species which is native to the coastline
of NSW. It grows to a height of about 2m and is often planted as
a hedge. The foliage has a silvery appearance due to small hairs
on the undersurfaces of the leaves.
W. glabra, native to Victoria and NSW produces bluish mauve flowers
in spring and W. ‘Glabra Cadabra’, a cross between W. glabra and
W. fruticosa, is a dense shrub about 1.5m tall which bears violet
flowers among its dark, glossy green leaves.