I was quite amazed by the extraordinary lengths some will people will go to grow Australian plants as reported in the journal of the Australian Native Plants Society recently. I’m not talking about your average half interested bloke in the Riverland, I ‘m talking about almost obsessed plant fanatics on the other side of the world.
Now I know we are onto a good thing with our own plants. There are some very good reasons to grow them quite apart from the fact some are very pretty garden plants. On the whole plants in Australia are quite unlike anything else in the world although we take them for granted.
One bloke I was reading about in Texas USA is delighted with Eremophila emu bush but he lost most because they ‘froze’. Yes, you read right. They froze, got crunchy and died.(Eremophila are mostly very frost hardy.) Plants that didn’t freeze rotted in the high humidity in summer – ‘Texas root rot’ they call it. But he is still planting and enjoying his Emu bushes and Australian bottle tree.
Another in the Netherlands bought a property with a couple of cow sheds (there are lots of cows in Holland so these are fairly big sheds) to specifically grow Australian plants in. A huge number of Australian plants went in after the roof had been converted to glass, the entire floor had been removed and a specially made soil mix (low in phosphorus) to suit the plants she is wanting to grow. But wait there is more – a heating system had been installed because otherwise potted Australian plants go to rented space in glass houses over winter, then come home for summer. The crunch came when night time temperatures went to minus 20 deg C and day time temperatures got ‘up’ to minus 8 deg C. Then the heater broke. After the loss of 700 precious plants, she started again with the same enthusiasm!
Yet another group of Australian plant enthusiasts in the UK grow their charges despite the snow and boggy soils. Whatever the setback, they come back for more.
I got to thinking, why? Why would you bother growing plants that need such different requirements to what you can naturally provide for them? Then it struck me. Australian plants in general are just so different, so fascinating and so compelling that once hooked it doesn’t matter what the hurdles are, one will do anything to reach the pinnacle of gardening to grow them no matter where in the world you are.
So what excuse do we have? The Riverland and mallee soils and climate on the whole suit a wide range of Australian plants without us as gardeners really having to do much at all.
So get hooked and get planting Australian plants without really trying!
Ref; Australian Plants No.205 Issue of Vol. 25. Australian Plants Society.
This article first published in the Riverland Weekly © June 23, 2011.