This month in the (waterlogged) native garden…

Having spent the last several years advising gardeners on selecting drought-proof plants for the garden, suddenly there’s water, water everywhere and the question of the month is now “What can I grow in that low-lying waterlogged spot that I never knew I had??” Sure puts a whole new perspective on “water-wise gardening”!

Well, the good news is there’s plenty of wonderful native plants for a waterlogged patch, of all shapes and sizes. And while they love a bit of good old seasonal inundation they will continue to thrive when this amazing country of ours returns to El Nino and we’re once again faced with years of drought.

With all the rain about, right now is a fantastic time for planting. The soil’s soft and damp, the rain will get your plants established in no time, and the warm weather means your plants will be nicely grown by the end of the wet. So… don’t put it off. Get into it now and plant up your gardens while the good times last.

So, back to that wet spot. Depending on the size of your yard, and whether you want a traditional native look or a lusher tropical native look, here’s a few suggestions.

If you want to go traditional, then melaleucas and callistemons are the reliable, tried and trusted solution. On an acreage block, you can plant the large river paperbarks (Melaleuca leucadendra and Melaleuca argentea). They will soak up heaps of water, and reward you with absolute masses of white bottlebrush flowers dripping in nectar by the bucket-load and attracting lorikeets by the swarms. In a suburban yard, plant the local weeping bottlebrush Callistemon viminalis, together with Melaleuca linariifolia and Melaleuca bracteata and their cultivars Snow in Summer, Snowstorm and Revolution Green.

Or for a real statement, why not plant a single specimen plant of the Weeping Tea Tree, Leptospermum madidum. This gorgeous super-weeping plant, with bright lime-green foliage and twisted silky-smooth white trunk, thrives in a wet spot, and is a traffic stopper when grown well.

For a stunningly different solution, plant a grove of the Swamp Banksia, Banksia robur. Yes, this banksia really does grow in swamps, and its gnarled form, huge (really huge) serrated leaves, and large (really large) olive green flower brushes, make a truly stunning display.

If you would prefer a lusher look, then start with a selection of water-loving Lilly-pillies such as Syzygium smithii, Syzygium australe and Syzygium angophoroides, (or Syzygium tierneyanum and Syzygium bamagense if you’ve got the room) and then add the Ulyssess Butterfly tree Melicope elleryana (this plant loves wet feet) and the Red Beech Dillenia alata. You could also include some unusual trees such as the Freshwater Mangrove Carrallia brachiata to attract the Four O’Clock Moth and the pretty Swamp Tamarind Dictyoneura obtusa, and finish off with a lower storey of Lomandras which are right at home in a shady damp spot.

Happy gardening this wet season, and see you at Yuruga!
Peter and Ann