There is quite a range of small growing Australian native trees, including indigenous plants local to this area, many of which are suitable for inclusion in the average garden.
Tree Waratah (Alloxylon flammeum): Not all shade trees have a spreading canopy. With its upright habit, this evergreen is one example. With its dense foliage and fabulous summer colour, it's a wonderful tree to provide a shady spot. It is a member of the family Proteacae, which includes grevilleas, banksias and waratahs.
The tree is fairly slow growing and may not flower for seven or eight years, especially if propagated from seed. However, the spectacular waratah-like red flowers are well worth the wait.
Hymenosporum flavum (Native Frangipani): A small, slender, fast growing tree with glossy dark green lanceolate leaves, that reaches 8 to 10 metres. From mid spring to early summer the canopy is covered in clusters of highly fragrant cream flowers turning yellow as they age. They attract honeyeaters and insectivorous birds, as well as butterflies. Although tolerant of poor dry soil and full sun, it prefers a moist, fertile soil with some shade.
Melaleuca linariifolia (Snow in Summer): A fast growing, bushy tree with dull green lanceolate leaves, that reaches about 8 to 10 m. From mid-spring till late summer it produces a profusion of white, scented 'bottlebrush' flower spikes. Often found on heavy wet soils, it tolerates sandy and saline soils. Snow in Summer also makes an effective specimen, screen or street tree. According to the Koala Preservation Society of NSW, it is one of the few non-eucalypts with foliage that koalas sometimes feed on.
Backhousia citriodora (Lemon-scented Myrtle): A medium-sized shrub or tree, to 8 m tall with a low-branching habit. The leaves of B. citriodora are a fresh green colour and strongly lemon-scented. The young foliage is reddish, and the young shoots and undersides of the leaves are often hairy.
Acacia melanoxylon (Blackwood): is a long-lived wattle that would be suitable as a small shade tree. In cultivation, most blackwoods will grow 12-15 metres in height. Blackwoods are known for their long life (often living over 100 years), low suckering habit, elegant dark grey-green foliage, and abundant winter flowers. The flowers appear in late winter and are multi-branched inflorescences of pale yellow balls. The fragrance is sweet.
Eucalyptus curtisii (Plunkett Mallee): A fast-growing small tree. It has many smooth-barked trunks. In spring many white flowers that are full of nectar are produced. Plunkett Mallee reaches about 7 metres in height. Ideal growing conditions include well-drained, sandy soils in full sun.
Tristaniopsis laurina (Water Gum): Not really a eucalypt, despite its common name. It grows naturally by rivers and streams. The leaves are a deep green in colour, produced in a dense crown and look like the leaves of a laurel. Clusters of yellow flowers are produced in summer. Its mature height is between 6 and 10 metres. Water Gum is tolerant of poorly drained soils.
"Shothole" of the prunus variety of fruit trees (including peaches, plums and nectarines) causes small holes in the leaves, which may be mistaken for damage caused by snails.
However, this fungal disease can lead to more significant problems later on, including die-back in the branches and gum appearing on the branches and main trunk.
A copper-based spray, such as copper oxychloride, will be necessary to achieve control. However, this should not be applied until the new flower buds commence showing some pink colouration, before the entire flower opens.
Ornamental (flowering) prunus may also be affected by this disease and require the same treatment.
Leaves of peach and nectarine trees can also become disfigured and thickened from another fungal disease.
Peach leaf curl eventually causes the leaves to drop from the tree. For treatment to be effective, the tree must be sprayed, again using copper oxychloride, but in this instance, it should happen before the leaves develop. The ideal time for spraying is when the new leaves begin to swell and become plump.
During the winter months it is still possible to have a salad vegetable by planting out fast-growing cress.
If planted from seed, some varieties of cress can be ready for harvest in four or five weeks from seed planting time. Children can enjoy growing cress on cotton wool, or as the "hair" on creatures made by placing sphagnum moss or potting mix into a stocking.
In order to have cress available for kitchen use, seeds can be sown into pots that have been filled with a pre-moistened seed raising mixture. Following sowing, the pot should be watered gently and then drained.
Placing the pot on a sunny window ledge will ensure a good light source. As the plants emerge from the soil, the pot should be turned regularly to ensure straight-growing plants. Harvest the plants when they are less than 5cm in height by cutting the stems at their base, using a pair of scissors.
Cress contains minerals such as iron and potassium, as well as Vitamins A, B and C. Plants that have been grown in a good light source will be a healthy green colour and have a higher nutritional value.
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