A Callistemon Worth Cultivating

Callistemon are very popular garden plants being easy to grow, producing wonderfully colourful blooms and they are also great at attracting birds.

Popular Callistemon

1. Callistemon citrinus Endeavour 2. Callistemon Anzac White 3. Callistemon Reeves Pink

They come in many colours though most tend to be shades of red.  Callistemon citrinus and Callistemon viminalis are the two main species that have helped established the plant as a garden favourite over the past 50 years.

Many cultivars have appeared in recent years including Calistemon viminalis ‘Little John’ which is prized for it’s compact form and lovely grey/green foliage.

There is one, however, that has not yet achieved great market acceptance yet deserves to due to its outstanding blooms of deep red with golden tips that appear throughout summer.

Callistemon PearsoniiCallistemon pearsonii is an absolute stunner, relatively easy to grow and it is quite hardy to drought and borderline tolerant of frosts.  The recently introduced cultivar ‘Rocky Rambler’ is more compact and low growing only reaching 30cms high by around a one metre spread, but still just as spectacular.

They go extremely well in borders and rockeries but take care (as with all natives) to keep phosorous rich fertilisers away.  A light sprinkling of blood and bone once a year is really all they need.

Click here for more information on this plant in the GardensOnline Plantfinder.

Author: Bob Saunders (www.gardensonline.com.au)

Australian Native Christmas Trees

As a native northern European I was brought up with fir trees at Christmas time.  Even though Prince Albert imported the idea from his native Germany to make him feel more at home with Queen Victoria in London, the Brits embraced the concept quickly.

Then because of Britain’s huge global influence at the time, the concept of decorated Christmas fir trees (Abies or Pinus) spread far and wide.

Now in the southern hemisphere we celebrate Christmas (which is also the summer solstice) with a symbol of German mid-winter. It is a notion that has always puzzled me as no matter where you are in the Southern part of the world, there are wonderful natives that are in full bloom – celebrating in their own way the height of the summer season.

Now I’m no Grinch – so people should do what they feel represents their roots best, but for me, here are two of my local favourites at the holiday season.

Ceratopetalum gummiferum

Ceratopetalum gummiferum – NSW Xmas Bush

The NSW Christmas Bush starts off with creamy coloured flowers in November that turn a bright red around Christmas time.  Early settlers cultivated it as it reminded them of the red berries of the English Holly and their homelands.  Admittedly it is a bit ordinary looking the rest of the year, but it is worth having one around just for the 4-6 weeks of glorious blossom as we approach high summer.

Corymbia ficifolia

Corymbia ficifolia – red flowering gum

The Red Flowering Gum on the other hand hasn’t been cultivated domestically so much in the past due to its unreliability of colour and size but is gaining in popularity now thanks to more compact and predictable varieties becoming available through hybridisation and grafting.

The Eucalyptus genus has had a rather tumultuous time recently being split into three groups, which still confuses many people brought up with the simple, all encompassing Eucalypt.

The wonderful Angophoras get their own genus, then some remain as Eucalypts while the rest become Corymbias.

Both Corymbias and Angophoras are terminal flowering – that means they hold their flowers at the end of the branches unlike other Eucalypts that produce flowers within the leaf canopy.  If the flowers are bright then they make an even more spectacular display if they are terminally located.  Most of the current offerings of Red Flowering Gums found in garden centres across Australia are a cross between the Corymbia ficifolia which originates from southwest WA with Corymbia ptychocarpa from northern Australia.

One way or another, these two spectacular flowering shrubs/trees herald the coming of summer, holidays, family fun and general good times – and that’s definitely something to celebrate.

Author: Bob Saunders (www.gardensonline.com.au)