Over the last two months the focus has been on native plants that are particularly adapted to drought or hot, dry conditions. Various Grevilleas and then Eremophilas have been recommended in this regard. But there is another group that copes with these conditions – not a genus but a colour. By and large, grey-foliaged plants have a wonderful capacity to reflect the sun’s heat and to really bask in it!
Some years ago, my wife Carol and I drove over to the Flinders Ranges in South Australia via Western NSW. Much of the rolling landscape around Broken Hill was covered with ‘Blue Bush’ – Maireana oppositifolia. For all intents and purposes, this plant does not have a flower, but the wonderful foliage has in my view a great future in floristry. And it certainly has a great future in Sydney gardens in coping with hot, dry conditions and growing to a size of around 1m x 1m. Another grey-foliaged plant to cope with these conditions, but which is also stunning in flower is ‘Golditops’ – Homoranthus prolixus. This plant hails from around Inverell in Northern NSW on the granite belt and was only discovered in the wild around 20 years ago and brought into cultivation. It grows to a height of around 0.5m and around 1m wide. Not surprising in view of its natural distribution, it not only copes with extreme heat but also extreme cold. The brilliant yellow flowers across the horizontal growth of the plant around mid-spring is something to behold. Thus, it bears the common name of Golditops. To my knowledge, only one other nursery is propagating this plant and that nursery is in Tenterfield. But a large-scale wholesale nursery is now onto it and hopefully the plant will be widely available soon!
The general name of ‘Paper Daisy’ covers a multitude of native plants. But one I only discovered recently is an absolute ripper. The botanical name of Chrysocephalum apiculatum is enough to make most people throw in the towel and not only that, there are so many forms of this plant it’s simply impossible to identify a particular form by name. I really enjoy giving plants common names so I’m working on a name for this wonderful grey-foliaged form with such spectacular yellow flowers through spring. Grey-foliaged plants also provide a wonderful contrast in any garden so try thinking grey next time you look for a new plant.
Brian Roach spent his professional life as a criminal law lawyer with the NSW Government, then as Crown Prosecutor/Barrister before retiring. In his retirement, Brian runs a cottage industry native plant nursery from his home in Westleigh, as well as being a guest speaker at garden clubs on over 130 occasions. He has also been a member of the Australian Plants Society for 45 years.