By Beatrice Hawkins
“In God’s good time down came the rain, and all the afternoon on iron roof and window-pane it drummed a homely tune. And through the night it pattered still, and lightsome, gladsome elves, on dripping spout and window-sill, kept talking to themselves!” Thank you Mr. Hartigan for putting my thoughts in words much more eloquently than I ever could!
What a wonderful sound that rain on the roof was over the weekend and how good to see, in our area at least, every creek a banker run and dams fill overtop! What a difference to the general outlook and demeanour of people to have green to look at even if, as is my case, it is more weeds than grass in the lawn! I know our water supplies have a long way to go to be full but at least farm dams and water tanks are full again.
Since I moved to Warwick I have been away each time there’s been a flush in the river, so I really enjoyed driving about on Sunday morning looking at the creeks and river running full and overflowing in the paddocks.
Tiddalik, the big frog on the river bank, was almost swimming!
I realise not all areas of the country have been as lucky as us and that it will take considerable and sustained follow up to break the drought, but this has certainly given us a good start.
Driving around many areas of the country and lately the streets in our town, I have admired many beautiful Crepe Myrtle trees in full flower. What an amazing and hardy tree they have once again proved to be. They cope with a wide variety of climates and soil types and seem to be very drought tolerant. Despite the 2018 massacre they endured here in 2018, most have survived and recovered somewhat and are in full flower at present. An unfortunate side effect of that is the huge number of suckers that will take a lot of council’s time and effort to remove so that nature strips and pathways are safe and accessible to the public.
There is a wide variety of colours available and the new burgundy/black leaved ones are particularly appealing. The one with the dark leaves and white flowers is particularly eye catching.
Another lovely small tree I saw recently in full flower in a friend’s garden here in Warwick, is the “Smoke Bush”, cotinus coggygria, with the “fairy floss” sprays of flowers at the end of the branches. The “purpurea” one seems particularly attractive with purple foliage that gets darker as the summer progresses, particularly if it’s planted in full sun, then goes a brilliant red/orange in autumn.
It likes a deep, well drained soil but is tolerant of both acid and alkaline. It needs watering regularly for about the first month after planting to get established but then appears to be fairly drought tolerant. It doesn’t seem to have many problems with pests or diseases and requires little care to thrive. In fact, when reading about it, the advice seems to be “leave it alone!” The normal level of care we would give to growing things is detrimental to these hardy shrubs apparently! A light pruning in late winter will promote the clouds of “flowers” as these appear on new growth each year.
Of course the other “smoke bush” that really appeals to me, is our native western Australian variety that is totally different to the one just described. With its pale grey, almost white, foliage and minute black throated flowers it is something I would really love to be able to have in a garden as a perfect foil to other coloured flowers. It is only a small growing shrub and through the bush, really does look like puffs of smoke. Just another one of the unusual and delightful plants I’ve seen in my W.A. travels. Another very special one is the “wreath flower” but that will have to wait until another day.
Oh, that I had acres of garden to plant all these things that appeal to me and, of course, a gardener to attend to it all and do the heavy work!
The recent rain has given us all some heart in the garden and will be a help in providing entries in our Autumn Flower Show on the 4th and 5th March in St Mary’s Hall in Wood St.
Entry forms are once again available from Bryson’s, so pick one up and take a look at what you may be able to enter. Entry is free, just bring them along on the Wednesday morning between 8 and 10 o’clock and help put on a good display in the hall. Without your efforts and dedication there can be no show! We can provide the venue but the gardeners of Warwick provide the display.
Don’t forget the AGM of the Horticultural Society on Wednesday evening 26th February at the CWA hall in Grafton Street.