Melaleuca radula, known as Graceful Honey-myrtle, is a native of Western Australia which bulges at the seams with interesting and colourful melaleucas. Many species are not yet in cultivation. It is an open shrub with mauve flowers that will reach a height of 2 metres.
Melaleuca steedmanii is a native of Western Australia and is one of a large number of colourful species from the west. Most are virtually unknown in cultivation but have great horticultural potential. This is a medium to tall shrub that may reach a height of three metres. Prune it to prevent it becoming straggly and keep plants bushy and blooming bounteously. A memorable sight in full flower.
Melaleuca thymifolia, Thyme-leaf Honey-myrtle, is one of a number of small melaleucas that reach a maximum height of 1.5 metres. It has a possible spread of 3 metres. Leaves are small, bluish-green and spicily aromatic when crushed (reflecting the species and common names). It is an east coast species with a wide distribution.
Melaleuca tortifolia is a tall shrub reaching a height of 4 metres. Bark is flaky. Leaves are 1.5 centimetres long, ovate to lanceolate, slightly twisted with a point. Flowers are carried in dense clusters, 2 centimetres long, white and sometimes pink, in spring.
Melaleuca wilsonii, Wilson’s Honey-myrtle, is a dense shrub that reaches a height of two metres. Leaves are decussate (having a cross-like arrangement when viewed from above), linear and pointed. Flower spikes are deep pink to mauve-purple. Spikes are carried on old wood and may be very long sometimes exceeding 10 centimetres in length. Blooms are both prominent and prolific.
Monotoca elliptica, Tree Broom Heath, is generally a medium shrub 1–4 m, although Victorian references indicate up to 8 m. The scattering of red fruit among the green foliage can be quite eye-catching.
Myoporum bateae is an open shrub that reaches a height of three metres. Leaves are long, narrow, linear, sticky, dotted with glands and up to 15 centimetres long. Honey bees visit the leaves, possibly as the glands exude a honey-attracting secretion. Flowers may be white or pale purplish pink. From 4 to 10 flowers are carried in the axils of the leaves. The main flowering period is spring and summer with sporadic flowering at other times.
Myoporum floribundum, the Slender Myoporum, is a rather sparse shrub that reaches a height of two metres in our cold climate garden. Branches are spreading and leaves are long and up to 13 centimetres long. They hang from the branches giving the plant a “wilted” appearance. This is far from the case as plants have proved to be hardy, drought resistant and tolerate frost. The foliage has a rather sour smell when wet.
Myoporum viscosum, the Sticky Boobialla, is a native of Victoria and South Australia. It is a medium shrub that will reach a height of two metres, making an ideal hedge plant. The leaves are up to 11 centimetres long by 3 centimetres wide, lanceolate to ovate, glossy and deep green with finely toothed margins.
Persoonia linearis is widespread along the east coast of Australia growing from coast to mountains. The flowers, borne on the end of the branches, are yellow 10 to 15 mm long and cylindrical in bud. Flowering occurs for a long period in summer.
Phebalium squamulosum ssp. squamulosum is widespread along the east coast of Australia growing from coast to mountains. There are 10 subspecies of this plant and the most common subspecies is squamulosum. The individual cream to pale yellow terminal flowers are five-petalled and relatively small, but as they occur in clusters they are very conspicuous. The narrow oblong leaves are up to 5 cm long and are shiny on top and a paler silvery-rusty colour underneath.
Philotheca myoporoides is a widely occurring plant found up and down the east coast of Australia from Victoria to Queensland and inland along the ranges. It grows in open forests in sheltered slopes and valleys as an understory plant.
Prostanthera incana, known as the Velvet Mintbush, is a small to medium shrub that reaches a height of 1.5 metres in our cold climate garden. Leaves are two centimetres long, oval, dull green, aromatic with a velvety appearance (hence the common name). Leaf margins have rounded teeth.
Prostanthera melissifolia is known as the Balm Mintbush. The species may reach a height of 5 metres with a spread of 3 metres. Leaves are oval, about 3 centimetres long, aromatic with toothed margins. They are crowded, dull green above and paler beneath.
Prostanthera nivea var. induta is a medium shrub that reaches a height of about two metres. Linear leaves are one centimetre long, grey-green and held in small clusters. Unlike most Prostantheras, induta has little or no foliage aroma. This variety has proved to be wilt-resistant during dry spells.
Prostanthera nivea var. nivea, Snowy Mint Bush is an upright shrub growing to a height of 3 metres. Leaves are light green, linear and about 4 centimetres long. Flowers are white to mauve. From September to December plants become covered in blooms. Prune after flowering to prevent plants becoming straggly.
Prostanthera ovalifolia, Oval-leaved Mint Bush is a variable shrub that may reach a height of five metres. The specimens in our garden only reach 2 metres. Judicious pruning will limit the height and prevent the plant becoming straggly. Leaves range in size from 5 mm to 50 mm in length. They are moderately crowded, mid green to dark green and strongly aromatic.
Prostanthera ovalifolia ‘Rosea’ was the first mint bush that I grew in my garden in the northern Sydney suburb of Westleigh and the original plant lasted for well over 20 years. It is stunning in flower and has the added bonus of highly aromatic leaves – when brushed they fill the air with a delightful bushland fragrance. It is a rounded shrub that grows to about two to three metres tall with a similar spread.
Prostanthera petraea is a rare mint bush from the Northern Tablelands and perhaps southern Queensland. This is a small to tall shrub. Plants in our garden are about two metres tall after three years in the ground. The leaves are ovate up to 8 centimetres long, 2 centimetres wide, strongly aromatic with prominent stalks. They are dull olive-green above and paler beneath.
Prostanthera phylicifolia is stunning in flower as the pale violet/purple flowers contrast beautifully with the small dark green aromatic leaves. Some Prostantheas have a short flowering time. However, I find that this species flowers for me for well over a month in early Spring. They are reportedly frost resistant and are a favourite plant on the west coast of USA.
Prostanthera ‘Poorinda Ballerina’ is a hybrid mint bush. This plant arose at Leo Hodge’s property, Poorinda in Victoria. It is said to be a medium shrub reaching a height of two metres. In our cold climate garden plants seldom exceed one metre in height. Small leaves are one centimetre long, deep green above and paler beneath.
Prostanthera ‘Ragged Robin’ is a short to medium shrub with an upright growth habit. Strongly aromatic leaves are about 2 centimetres long, cross-shaped and grey-green to pale green. Flowers are 1.5 centimetres long, mauve-blue and carried in the upper leaf axils during late spring and early summer. Blooms are conspicuous and profuse. Pruning plants will keep them in good shape.
Prostanthera rotundifolia is known as the Round-leaf mint Bush and is well known in cultivation. The Round-leaf Mint Bush reaches a height of two metres in our cold climate garden. As the common name suggests the leaves are round. The foliage is very aromatic. Flowering is in spring when the plants become covered with blooms.
Prostanthera scutellaroides grows naturally from Sydney to the Blue Mountains and north to the Queensland border. The leaves are linear, pale to mid-green, sometimes curved and up to three centimetres long. Unlike most mint bushes the foliage, of this species, has virtually no perfume.
For many years, Rhododendron lochiae was considered to be Australia’s only native Rhododendron, only found growing within the Bellendron Kerr Range inland from Cairns. However, recent investigations have indicated that two distinct species exist. The second species, Rhododendron notiale which occurs in the same geographical area as Rhododendron lochiae, was recognised in 1996.
Ricinocarpus pinifolius is local to the Sydney region and should be on everyone’s ‘must have’ list for their garden. I planted this plant about 10 years ago in my garden, in the northern Sydney suburb of Westleigh and it is now approximately two metres high and produces flowers from September to well into December.
Sannantha crassa is a member of the Myrtaceae family and is a shrub that is said to reach a height of 2.5 metres. In our cold climate garden plants rarely exceed one metre in height. The branches are pendulous with aromatic, lanceolate to elliptical leaves.
Solanum aviculare is known as the Kangaroo Apple and is a small to medium spreading shrub. In our cold climate garden plants usually reach a maximum height of three metres. The leaves may be entire or lobed, up to 30 centimetres long, deep green above and lighter green beneath. Our specimens have lobed leaves. Flowers are up to four centimetres across and an eye-catching bluish-violet with a deep violet star-shaped marking at the base and bright yellow anthers.
Senna artemisioides produces bright yellow flowers about 1.5 cm diameter which are borne in small clusters in the leaf axils over a long period from late Autumn/early Winter through to Spring. These are followed by brown/black pods 4-8cm long x 1cm wide.
Syzygium paniculatum dwarf form is a great screening plant. It grows naturally in rainforests between Bulahdelah and Jervis Bay and is listed as a vulnerable species in the wild. Attractive white fluffy flowers appear in summer and are followed by large, fleshy, magenta-coloured fruits. These are oval in shape and around 20 mm long and contain a single seed. The fruits are edible and are often made into jams.
Thryptomene calycina is known as the Grampian’s Thryptomene or Grampian’s Heath-myrtle. It is a small to medium, rather bushy shrub. The small, oblong leaves are 1.5 centimetres long, 0.5 centimetres wide, deep green, aromatic and tightly clustered along the stems. Flowers are 0.5 centimetres across, white and carried in the leaf bases at the tops of stems.
Tremandra stelligera is a member of the Elaeocarpaceae family and is an erect or spreading shrub reaching a maximum height of two metre. Flowers are four to five petalled, 1.6 centimetres across, pink, purple or purple-blue. Blooms are solitary on hairy stalks and conspicuous particularly the purple-blue form.
Westringia ‘Glabra Cadabra’ is a hybrid which develops into a dense shrub about 1.5 metres high by the same width. The leaves are glossy and held in whorls of four around the stems. Violet flowers are carried in clusters for many months. In our cold climate garden specimens are seldom without flowers. Both foliage and flowers are attractive features.
Westringia ‘Poorinda Pavane’ is a spreading shrub that reaches a height of 2 metres in our garden. Leaves are in whorls of four, up to two centimetres long, mid green above and white-hairy beneath. The foliage is dense and provides safe nesting sites for small native birds.
Westringia longifolia is an open, upright shrub that reaches a height of two metres in our cold climate garden. Leaves are bright green, linear and about three centimetres long. In typical Westringia fashion leaves are held in whorls of three.
Westringia ‘Wynyabbie Gem’ is a hybrid which arose in cultivation at Wynyabbie Nursery, Jindalee, Queensland. The cultivar name is derived from the nursery name. I planted my first Westringia ‘Wynyabbie Gem’ plant about eight years ago in my garden, in the northern Sydney suburb of Westleigh.