Five years ago, Larry smashed a trail of destruction through the vegetation of our region. Who can forget the dreadful site of the beautiful rainforests on the Tablelands and down the Palmerston Highway, stripped bare of every leaf, sunlight burning down into the forest floor. We took a walk through the forests a few weeks later and were horrified to find weeds taking advantage of the situation and colonising our beautiful World Heritage rainforests. And the greatest horror was the observation that most of these opportunistic colonisers were garden escapes – you know, those pretty (and seemingly innocuous) little exotic plants that we love to plant all around our houses to ‘add colour’.
It is a fact, sad but frighteningly true, that most of our noxious weeds in Australia began their life as pretty little garden plants, and while our backs were turned, took advantage of our complacency, escaped into our bushland and forests, and morphed into monsters.
So let’s learn the lessons of Larry, and be on the look-out post-Yasi. Nothing beats a cyclone for distributing seeds far and wide and creating the perfect opportunity for plants to get established where they’re not wanted while we’re preoccupied with repairing damage to homes, structures and communities.
Did you know that the African Tulip, Yellow Oleander and Singapore Daisy are actually Declared Weeds? If your garden suffered damage in Yasi, use the opportunity of a post-cyclone clean-up to cull out these exotic pests and any other Declared Weeds you might have in your garden. Google ‘Declared weeds in Queensland” to find the DPI website with a full list of these plants, plus the regulations and penalties associated with them.
Hot on the heels of these declared noxious pests is an army of other invasive plants just waiting for a catastrophic event such as a cyclone to gain a foothold in our precious forests. Plants like Mock Orange, Java Plum, Brazilian Cherry, Allamanda vine, Mother-in-law’s Tongue and Cocos Palms have already been classified as Invasive Plants, and you should not be planting these in your garden. There’s plenty of beautiful plants you can plant instead. For instance, there’s a huge range of different Lilly-Pillies to choose from to find a perfect substitute for Mock Orange, Java Plum and Brazilian Cherry. And why plant an invasive Cocos Palm when you can plant the lovely native Alexandra, Carpentaria or Foxtail Palms instead?
It is easy to create a lovely garden without including pests or potential pests. The nursery industry has developed a terrific programme called ‘Grow Me Instead’, so for a list of invasive plants to avoid in north Queensland, simply Google ‘Grow me instead’.
And for plants to replace your weeds, and which you absolutely know will not be invasive, visit Yuruga Nursery and choose natives for your garden.
Let’s make a post-Yasi resolution to ‘weed out the weeds’!
Happy gardening, and see you at Yuruga.
Peter and Ann