Correa rings out its bells

Ring out the bells, winter is upon us!

You must be joking?

My reply is: “Would you rather a frost overnight, usually gone by mid-morning followed by a beautiful clear sky and warm day or 38C temperatures when it is too hot to do anything?”

Have a look as you drive around at the weekend and see how many folk are in their gardens.

“Ring out the bells” refers to that wonderful winter flowering Aussie shrub, the correa, starting with the rusty colours of Correa reflexa  “Dusky Bells”. For indeed, as can be seen from the photograph, the flowers of the correa do resemble bells. They are a truly winter-flowering shrub, drought-hardy, frost-hardy and perfect for every garden with their delicate yet prolific flowers. There are correas suitable for growing in the ground or in containers. Also the correa will be Canberra’s Centenary plant in 2013.

When we owned a nursery 25 years ago, the variety of correas was limited. Today, I did my regular nursery walk, which included the Yarralumla Nursery and the Heritage Nursery, sitting side by side as they do. I started counting correas between the two and came up with an amazing list of 17 varieties, most just starting to come into flower.

The correa was named after Jose Correia da Serra (1750-1823), from Portugal, a diplomat and scientist with a special interest in botany. He fled his own country due to religious persecution and went to England where he came under the influence of Sir Joseph Banks.

Here are just a few correas to tempt you. Firstly, Correa “Jezabell” with prolific red flowers from now until well into the winter. Bred by a local wholesale nursery makes it ideal for our local conditions. Growing 1m x 57cm it is loved by nectar-feeding birds.

Next in line with brilliant orange flowers is C. “Autumn Blaze”, so called because of its rich autumnal flower colour, in bloom from now until spring. This is a low-growing, spreading correa 30cm x 1.5m spread, perfect for a ground cover or rockery.

Our third one is C. Alba with white flowers more open than the traditional bell shape. Considered one of the hardiest of Australian plants, growing 1.5m x 1.5m. Check out your local garden centre for correas as they come into flower.


This week’s reminders:

  • If you are moving shrubs do not cut back too hard, moving is stressful enough.
  • It is preferable to dig weeds out than the overuse of glyphosate herbicide.
  • If perennials are now in too much shade it is time to move them into a sunny spot.
  • Move indoor plants away from heating ducts or near draughty windows.
  • Plant Yates winter lettuce “Triumph Iceberg”.

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