Recent rain and warm weather have led to an abundance of plants flowering in our Garden. Discover some of their stories in November’s virtual tour.
Dwarf Apple, Banda (Cadigal) - Angophora hispida
This close relative of the Sydney Red Gum (Angophora costata) is a mallee, with multiple, often contorted trunks growing to 7 metres. Bristly redbuds burst open to reveal large staminate, white flowers that attract a myriad of insects. Also emerging clasped to the stem are pink-red new leaves with heart-shaped bases. The Dwarf Apple grows on Hawkesbury sandstone between the Royal National Park in Sydney’s south and Gosford to the north.
Mt Blackwood Holly - Graptophyllum ilicifolium
With leaves like Holly and a flower reminiscent of a Fuchsia, this rare plant from Central Queensland is becoming popular in gardens but is listed as vulnerable in the wild. It grows naturally in drier rainforests, along rocky drainage lines in semi-shade. In cultivation, it prefers dappled light, moist soil rich in organic material and light pruning to keep a compact shape. Provided with these conditions, plants reward with glossy green foliage and a spectacular annual display of pink flowers in late spring.
Pincushion Plants - Leucospermum cordifolium ‘Carnival Yellow’
Leucospermum is derived from Greek and means ‘white seed’. It is a clue to the mutualistic relationship these plants have with ants in their native habitat. The seed is coated with a white substance (elaiosome), rich in protein and lipids and very attractive to ants who take the seeds underground to feed on the elaiosome. Regular fires in the plant’s habitat can completely destroy the plants, but the seed is protected underground thanks to the ants. The fire and smoke help promote seed germination, ensuring the plants ongoing survival.
Powderpuff Lillypilly - Syzygium wilsonii subsp. wilsonii
This is perhaps the most spectacular of all the Lillypillies. It has attractive pendulous branches, striking pink new leaves, beautiful red flowers and edible white berries. This species is endemic to the lowland rainforests of far north Queensland from Ingham to Cooktown. It is a relatively slow-growing shrub reaching 1 to 3 metres in height and can be grown as an understorey plant in the garden or even in a large container.
Ma’o hau hele - Hibiscus brackenridgei subsp. mokuleianus
This fast-growing Hibiscus from Hawaii is covered in beautiful buttery yellow flowers. It comes from the island of O’ahu where it grows in dry forests and shrublands in only three locations and is listed as critically endangered. Only 100-300 individual plants survive, but work is being conducted to augment these wild populations by translocating propagated plants, representing the genetic diversity of the wild plants, to safe locations on O’ahu. It grows well in cultivation with the main pest being the Hibiscus Flower Beetle that chews holes in both leaves and flowers.
Blake’s Erythrina - Erythrina x bidwillii ‘Blakei’
This is a plant with spectacular vermillion red flowers and an interesting Australian history. It was one of two hybrids bred by William Macarthur at his Camden Park estate in the 1840s by crossing E.herbacea with E.crista-Galli. The name honours both former Director of this Garden, John Bidwill and Macarthur’s convict gardener, Edmund Blake. This was the first hybrid produced anywhere in the world between woody legumes and the first Australian hybrid published in Europe. It is sterile and needs to be grown from cuttings or grafted onto E.crista-Galli rootstock like our plant.
Natal Lily - Crinum moorei
Everything about this bulbous plant from South Africa is big. The bulbs grow to around 20 cm diameter, large strappy leaves grow a metre above the ground, and pink and sometimes white tubular flowers rise well above the foliage. Flowers have a sweet fragrance, and the plant grows best in light shade. Although popular in gardens and naturalised in other countries, it is not widespread in its native habitat. It is threatened by overcollection and predation by caterpillars. Amaryllis caterpillars are a problem in cultivated plants in Australia.
Dorrigo Waratah - Alloxylon pinnatum
Like its close relative the Tree Waratah (Alloxylon flammeum), the Dorrigo Waratah is a rainforest tree with spectacular flowers. The pink-red flowers are clustered together at the end of the branches in a corymb inflorescence. The nectar-rich flowers attract a wide variety of birds and are also visited by the rare Richmond birdwing butterfly. The species has a restricted distribution, occurring on the Dorrigo Plateau and the Macpherson Range that straddles the NSW Queensland border. Plants are difficult to grow in cultivation and best grafted onto Tree Waratah rootstock.
Why not join a Guided Walk of the Garden with one of our knowledgeable Volunteer Guides, on Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Find out more here.