Joy down the garden path

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I NEVER cease to enjoy a relaxing walk through the Botanic Gardens, considered by most in Canberra as “our” botanic gardens, although we do encourage outsiders to visit!

In fact, I suspect that a large proportion of our residents have never visited the gardens.

Use Callistemon as a formal hedge.

Late spring is the perfect time to visit, seeing such gems as the emerging flowers of Telopea speciosissima or waratah (pictured here) about to burst into its unbelievable beauty and complexity. This particular species, the NSW floral emblem, is only one of five species listed in Wrigley and Fagg’s “Australian Native Plants” and is rated as “the best known of our Australian wild flowers”.

Closer to home is the hybrid Telopea “Braidwood Brilliant”. For growing in Canberra this is more adaptable to cultivation and is more frost tolerant. The rare T. “Wirrimbirra White” somehow, for me, does not have the same impact as the brilliant red flowers. On your visit, collect the “In Flower this Week” leaflet from the Visitor Centre.

I ALWAYS encourage the regular pruning of native plants to provide more bushiness that, in turn, results in more flowers the following season. Or with some plants we can be rewarded with a second flush of flowers even in the same season.

In the case of Callistemons or bottle brushes, cut the heads off at the base of the flower immediately after flowering. If left, the plant ends up with long stems and bulges of unsightly dried seed heads and few flowers the following season. A good example is shown here with a neatly clipped hedge of Callistemon.

MANY folk consider Aussie plants are suitable only for bush gardens, where the plants tend to end up wild and woolly. Few people consider their use in a formal garden and yet this example of Callistemon dispels that theory, separating different areas of the garden.

In our Yass Nursery, years ago, I used Philotheca myoporoides (syn. Eriostemon myoporoides) as a clipped hedge bordering the paths to the formal rose garden. The fragrance of the leaves when brushed against almost competed with that of the flowers.

The numerous Westringea species can also be used as a formal, low hedge and will take to clipping, once again the best time is immediately after flowering.

ORNAMENTS in the garden are no different to those in the home. They can include pots, statuary to sculptures and provide a focal point of interest in the garden.

We have an abundance of talented Canberrans who make local works of art. Here I have illustrated a whimsical work by Bev Hogg, with a very realistic dog named Clayton that resides in our garden and causes problems to our resident geese. Bev will hold her Ceramic Studio Sale and Garden Party at 8 Brennan Street, Hackett, 10am-4pm, on Sunday, November 25.

And on Saturday, November 24, there is the promise of a “spectacular floral display” plus a plant stall at the Geranium and Fuchsia Show, 9.30am to 4pm, at St James Church Hall, Gillies Street, Curtin.

THE wonderful, recent rain will keep the garden ticking over for another few weeks and the Gungahlin Weather Centre predicts we will receive our November average of 73mm. This private weather station is the district’s premier weather site with updates every 10 minutes. Go to

When visiting open gardens:

  • Stop and look backwards every now and again, you will be surprised by how many features you may have missed.

  • As a courtesy always ask to take photos.

  • No dogs into the gardens unless, of course, guide dogs.

  • Never take cuttings or pull seeds off plants without asking.

  • Take photos of special features and plants you can use in your own garden rather than the whole garden.

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Cedric Bryant
Trained horticulturist and garden designer with over 30 years experience in the industry.

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