When planning a garden, the inclusion of flowering shrubs and plants may add areas of brightness to the garden as well as enhancing other colours from flowering plants.
Many produce flowering heads that are actually myriads of small flowers.
Spring is a time in which some of these shrubs are most effective.
A well-known, but perhaps somewhat “old-fashioned” white-flowering shrub is the spiraea, or May bush. It produces arching branches covered with masses of small, double white flowers. As they grow to between 1.5 and 2 metres in height, they are ideal for the average garden and will flower in positions of full sun to part shade.
Following their flowering, the branches should be cut back to encourage new shoots for next year’s flowering.
Leptospermum flavescens “Cardwell”, an Australian tea tree, produces weeping foliage that is massed with white flowers in spring. It grows to about 1 metre in height and 1.5 metres across.
Baeckeas are another variety of Australian native plants that often produce small white flowers on long, pendulous stems. They are used by florists as the stems last well when cut.
Grevillea “Moonlight” is a large shrub, growing up to 3 metres. Large, creamy-white flowers are produced abundantly on the ends of the branches and contrast well with dark green, ferny foliage. Flowers drip with nectar, making them attractive to honeyeaters.
The tree gardenia, Rothmannia, grows to 3.5 metres in height has creamy white bell-shaped flowers that also viburnums, or snowball trees have several varieties that produce white flowers in spring. Viburnum “opulus” has large balls of green flowers that change to white and grow 2-3 metres in height. While most varieties of Geraldton wax produce flowers in shades of pink, an attractive variety with single or double white flowers is also available. It requires well-drained alkaline soils.
Native grasses can be used as ground cover, particularly in difficult corners or areas in the garden. Some natives will grow in shade and cope with competition from tree roots. The ground cover grasses, when established, can retard and prevent weed growth. The natives are generally slow growing and are generally not very invasive.
Dianellas and lomandras are two of the more common varieties. Dianella is often known as the flax lily, and is a great alternative to the New Zealand flax. More than 30 species of dianella are native to Australia. These range from Dianella tasmanica or “Tasmanian flax lily”, a native of Tasmania, to Dianella revoluta “blue flax-lily” or “blueberry lily”, which is found from Western Australia across to Queensland.
Dianella prunina, which is found in NSW, is a drought tolerant species once established. It features attractive blue foliage. However, it can become somewhat leggy. Dianella prunina “Utopia” has a more compact growth habit and is ideal for pots or containers as well as mass planting. Dianella caerulea or “Paroo lily” will grow to about 0.5m. Dianella longifolia or “smooth flax lily” is clump forming to about 80cm.
Dianella are a desirable plant in landscaping projects and the home garden. They are tolerant of a wide range of temperatures, and are drought and frost resistant. Dianella caerulea, or “Paroo lily”, is an upright plant with branched stems up to 50cm long, which bear dry leaves. Leaves are flat for most of their length and usually have rough edges. Flowers are blue, with yellow anthers. Fruit is a blue-purple berry. The plants which flower from October to February, prefer sandy soils, and can be found from Queensland to Victoria along the coastal zone and northern table lands.
Dianella revoluta, is a spreading flax lily, with green revolute foliage. The edge of the leaf is usually rough. Flowers are dark blue, with yellow-brown anthers. Dianella longifolia is a tufted perennial herb, which forms large clumps. The long leaves grow up to 80cm in length. In spring and summer, the plant produces light blue flowers.
Lomandra is a hardy Australian Native clumping grass – like plant related to the grass tree. Strappy leaves and flower spikes that are fragrant in summer. A tough ground cover, it can grow in full sun to shade.
Lomandra longifolia “Tanika” is a finer leafed, more compact form, with yellow flowers. Lomandra filiformis “Savanna Blue” has a blue tinge to the foliage and is a stunning contrast. Lomandra longifolia is a common tufted plant, found in a variety of situations from exposed sand dunes to rainforest areas.
It is a very variable species but characterised by its tough strap-like leaves and its large flower cluster. Flowers are almost cylindrical, creamy, often with purplish centres. Plants flower from August to December. This common Lomandra is found in many different environments including sand dunes, ridges, open forest, creek banks and rainforests.
Geraldton wax is one of Australia’s most famous wildflowers and is widely used as a cut flower in Australia and overseas. Plants require very good drainage. A number of different colour forms have been selected including: “Album” white; “Purple Pride”; purple; “Violet Pride”; deep purple and “Dancing Queen”; mauve-pink flowers.
Other varieties, including lower growing plants are now available.