Local people may have noticed a number of medium-sized trees that are currently covered in creamy-white flowers over bright green leaves.
These trees are Buckinghamia celsissima, commonly known as the Ivory Curl Tree. Buckinghamias are native to North Eastern Queensland, and have been widely planted as street trees in some areas.
This common name perfectly describes the curled ivory coloured flowers which appear from late summer through into autumn. They are produced on the ends of branches and are full of nectar which attracts both native birds and bees.
Ivory curl trees have a lovely dense umbrella shape, with attractive glossy green foliage. New growth often has a pinkish red tinge which provides interest even when not in flower. They are perfect as a feature tree or mass planted for privacy.
Although the trees originate from tropical rainforests, they are surprisingly adaptable and will even grow in areas with light frosts provided they are in a sheltered position. They tolerate a wide range of soils but will benefit from good drainage with plenty of organic matter mixed in.
The richer the soil that Ivory Curl trees are planted into, the faster the growth that results. Optimum results will be obtained from trees planted in full sun to part shad, where moisture levels are maintained until plants are well established.
After this they become quite dry tolerant. Trees in this area will generally reach a medium size. Flowers usually appear after two to three years.
Trees are generally free of disease or attacks by pests.
When deciding on new plants to add to a garden, some worthy of consideration provide colour in the autumn months, as well as being quite drought-tolerant, once established in the garden.
Plants that could be included in this list are:
Gordonia is a long-flowering shrub or small tree that becomes covered in large, white flowers with bright yellow centres. They are commonly known as 'Fried Egg Plant". Gordonias can be grown as a specimen tree or in a hedge formation.
Tibouchinas are a small to medium trees that produce an abundance of flowers ranging in colour from pink through to vivid purple.
"Jules", a smaller variety, is suitable for pot culture. Tibouchina 'Alstonville' is one of the more commonly grown varieties. Tibouchinas were previously known as Lasiandras.
Sasanqua camellias require very little water and are available in varieties that produce flowers in a range of colours including white, red and pink. They flower from late summer through to winter and are excellent subjects for hedge growth.
Unlike the more familiar Camellia japonicas that flower later in the season, camellia sasanquas produce multiple smaller flowers with repeated flowering.
Autumn crocus produce erect, white flowers mixed with thin, green stems, from bulbs. If left to multiply in an area, they will soon form a low garden edging or clump. They prefer a position with light shade. Sedum, such as "Autumn Joy", "Brilliant" or one of the purple-leaved varieties, produce long-lasting heads of pink flowers. They should be planted into a sunny spot in the garden. Sedum grow to about 30cm.
Broad beans and peas that have been planted into a vegetable garden provide a double benefit. In addition to providing nutritious food sources, the plants also add nitrogen to the soil, enriching it for subsequent crops.
In areas where frosts are not prevalent, peas can be sown and will soon produce flowers and, subsequently, tasty pods. In areas where winter temperatures are much lower, broad beans are a better choice as these plants can withstand much colder conditions. However, broad beans are also most suitable for growing in areas with a warmer climate.
As peas and broad beans are both vigorous growers, they need to be provided with the right growing conditionsfor strong growth. A sunny position is desirable, with well-draining soil. Some dolomite that has been added to the soil will assist in overcoming any acidic excesses in the soil.
Adding general animal fertilisers, except poultry manure, to the soil will be most beneficial as they contain plenty of organic material. Poultry manure is high in nitrogen, which plants in this family produce themselves. Once the manure has been spread over the surface of the soil, some sulphate of potash can also be added by sprinkling it over the soil. Then this mixture should be dug as deeply as possible into the soil.
After leaving the soil to settle for a few days the seeds can be planted into it by placing them into a 10cm wide furrow that is about 3cm deep.
Peas should be planted about 2cm apart, while 10cm should be allowed between broad bean seeds. The seeds can then be covered with the soil removed to make the furrow. Minimal watering is essential, with an initial application and then applying more only when the first two leaves appear. Over- watering may result in poor germination.
Peas are basically grown in two different groups, those with edible pods and peas grown for the fleshy seeds that require removal of the outer shells. Plants can also be grown as vines or bushes (dwarf) types.
Snow peas generally have pods that are longer than Snap peas. Providing the weather remains warmer, peas will produce their first flowers in about six weeks, while broad beans will not begin to crop until mid-spring.