The use of ornamental grasses as features in garden landscapes continues to gain popularity as more varieties become available.
These plants are generally drought-hardy, disease-resistant and require minimal care.
They also offer interesting and dramatic landscaping options.
Dianellas and lomandras are two of the more common varieties. They provide good contrast in the home garden, combining well with exotics but, they are also an essential element of native landscaping.
Regarded as among the most drought-tolerant, adaptable Australian native plants, both groups look very effective when mass planted.
Dianella caerulea is an upright plant with branched stems up to 50 centimetres long, which bear dry leaves. Leaves are flat for most of their length and usually have rough edges. Flowers are blue, with yellow anthers. and 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.
Little Jess grows to about half the height of many forms of Dianella caerulea. Trimming is only required once every eight years, making it low maintenance. It has very short, compact canes so they will not fall over like common Dianella caerulea which generally has long canes.
Dianella Little Rev, with its beautiful blue-grey colour, provides excellent contrast for green plants such as liriope. Plants have an average mature height of around 300 millimetres, making them ideal for many uses.
Dianella tasmanica Tasred is another hardy plant, being drought- and frost-tolerant. It changes colour throughout the seasons and grows to a height of 400 millimetres and approximately 400 milliletres wide.
With its deep red flower stems, and its beautiful blue and yellow flowers, Tasred makes a colourful display in spring. In summer its flowers make way for large, bold eye-catching purple berries.
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 80 centimetres in length and produces light blue flowers in spring and summer.
Lomandra longifolia is a common tufted plant, found in many different environments including sand dunes, ridges, open forest, creek banks and rainforests.
It is a very variable species characterised by its tough, strap-like leaves and its large flower cluster. Flowers are almost cylindrical, creamy often with purplish centres and appear from August to December.
Lomandra Tanika is one of the toughest and most reliable landscape plants. It is drought-tolerant, evergreen in almost all situations including drought and frost, almost indestructible, out-competes weeds, and looks good naturally with practically no care.
A good egg-plant
Traditional eggplants are large and purplish-black in appearance. However, other types are now also available, including white-skinned and striped varieties, lady’s fingers and tiny pea eggplants, which are used in Asian cooking.
Red varieties are also now available. These have a better flavour than the more traditional purple ones because they are less acidic. They are most suitable for cutting in half and placing on the barbecue, or sliced thinly, fried and added to platters of antipasto.
Eggplants require a position of full sun and a long, warm growing season. Seeds and seedlings can be planted out now.
A layer of plastic mulch around the plants may assist in providing conditions of additional warmth, as well as conserving moisture, ensuring the plants can grow as quickly as possible.
Because eggplants are in the same family as tomatoes and capsicums, they require similar conditions and care as that applied to these vegetables.
A good supply of organic material should be dug well into the soil at planting time.
Mulching and frequent watering will generally be required. Regular applications of a complete fertiliser will ensure good growth.
The fertiliser should contain higher proportions of potassium and phosphorous, rather than nitrogen.
This is particularly important at times of flowering and fruiting.
It is very important that the soil should absorb and retain water effectively and drain well, as eggplant is a water-hungry plant when fruiting.
Of the most common varieties, each plant will produce approximately four to eight fruits.
Eggplants grow very well in raised beds and can be spaced 30 centimetres apart in each direction.
Healthy plants will quickly cover and shade the bed, eliminating any opportunity for weeds to become established.
Eggplants can be grown in the same area as capsicums as they prefer similar growth conditions.
Lavenders come in many colours, ranging from white through to green and varying shades of purple/blue and red/pinks.
Lavenders should not be pruned into hard, older wood as they will rarely recover from this treatment.
They respond well to a light pruning following their main flowering periods in addition to a light feed early in spring.
Blood and bone is ideal to use for this feeding.