JUST a couple of warm days and folk come out as butterflies from their chrysalis.
As I write this it is a balmy 21C with just a whisper of gentle wind. On days like this, besides the lake foreshores almost swamped with walkers, joggers, mums with prams and more, the other popular venue is our Australian National Botanic Gardens.
Families on the Eucalypt Lawn picnicking and the joyful sound of children grateful to be free of winter pullovers and coats.
I say our Botanic Gardens as we like to claim these as our own, and yet it is for all Australians, as evident of my brief chats with interstate visitors as I roamed the gardens on this glorious day.
The shrubs have been waiting in high expectation for these days particularly after our recent severe frosts down to minus 8C; so many are displaying full buds, ready to burst into flower.
Pictured here are two examples, firstly Homoranthus flavescens with its flowers in horizontal layers providing the maximum exposure to the sun. Quoting from Wrigley and Fagg’s “Australian Native Plants” it tells us that “Homoranthus” is a small endemic genus of 22 species, most of which are in cultivation. They do not tolerate wet feet or deep shade, as with most Aussie plants.
“This spreading hardy shrub from NSW of half a metre high and spreading to one metre would suit most gardens. It is also useful for attracting nectar-eating birds”.
Grevillea bauri, from the Budawang Range in NSW, is also just waiting to burst into its bright red flowers. Growing to 1.5m with a one-metre spread, this shrub can be kept more compact with judicious pruning in early summer after the main flush of flowers is past.
Other shrubs literally covered in buds and waiting for days like this day include the prostrate form of Acacia baileyana, which incidentally is not on the environmental weeds list as is it taller cousin.As we all know the wattles are considered by most as the true heralds of spring. Banksia intergrifolia has a myriad of new-flower buds and eventually to turn into Banksia Men and as also many grevilleas such as G. lanigera or Woolly Grevillea.
A special mention is the delightful Grevillea caleyi of Caley’s Grevillea, which is included on the Endangered Conservation Status list. This is for the larger garden, growing to 3m tall and 4m across.
I am now going to suggest you go for a walk in the Botanic Gardens to enjoy all these natural wonders and listen to the birds. Take a picnic and let the children run and look for dinosaurs in the rain forest.
One point is that not all the plants you see growing in the gardens are commercially available.
However, a good starting point is the Yarralumla Nursery where you can see so many Aussie plants coming into flower. Plus you will get the very best of advice of plants to suit your size garden, growing conditions and any special requirements.
AS the days rapidly warm, we do need to check out pointers for the garden:
You can identify your plants at the garden’s Botanical Resource Centre open from 9.30am to 4.30pm in the Ellis Rowan Building (next to Hudson’s Cafe)
Do not water bulbs from now on, even the small amounts of rain we are receiving are quite adequate.
Check the lawn mower, maybe new blades, change the oil for four-stroke mowers and touch up rust spots.
Clean and sharpen secateurs and loppers as rose pruning gets under way.
Lightly prune Camellia Sasanquas now they have finished flowering to make bushier growth and more flowers next year.
Buy Multiguard Snail and Slug Killer, the safer way for pets and blue tongue lizards (these can be killed with the wrong pellets). Incidentally, this brand is recommended by Dr. Harry Cooper, the inimitable TV vet.