Balmoral Beach, Mosman
One of the surest ways of determining which plants are best suited to an area is to see which ones thrive over and over again. On my morning walk to Balmoral, I am always on the look out; on the look out for new design ideas, on the look out for new plant ideas and on the look out to see which plants are thriving and which plants are struggling.
Here follows ten plants that are great for Sydney, all photographed in Mosman. Eight will grow without any attention, they are plants that are through and through Sydney lovers – looking just right and growing easily here. The last two are somewhat different.
1. Strelitzia (Bird of Paradise). Great in a pot too – will even withstand some splashing from chlorinated pool water
2. Grevillea ‘Superb’. If you like birds in your garden, you will love Grevillea. Flowering almost all year long these plants will attract birds for its sweet nectar
3. Sydney Rock Orchid (Dendrobium speciosum). Think orchids are tricky? You don’t even need a proper bed to plant these in; a rock garden is perfect – a bit of sun and dry roots and this plant will be happy
4. Wisteria. Wet or dry soil, sand or clay, acid or alkaline, wisteria will pretty much grow anywhere. Choose from mauve or white flowers, very occasionally pink can be found too
5. Clivia miniata. If you have dry shade, such as underneath a tree, Clivia can not be beaten. Reliable flowerers, rich, glossy leaves and go for red or yellow hybrids for variety
6. Bottlebrush (Callistemon). Give them plenty of sun and bottlebrushes will flower for much of the year, bringing an Australian feel to your garden. The dwarf varieties are great for smaller gardens and will stay nice and compact
7. Agave attentuata. There is nothing else that says ‘Sydney’ more loudly to me than Agave attenuata. Well, perhaps only Agave attenuata in front of a sandstone wall! Sun and free draining soil and it is hard to go wrong with these, for fabulous architectural highlights. Admittedly, you may need to wait ten years for a flower, but who needs flowers when it has foliage this dramatic?
8. Grevillea ‘Moonlight’. If you are paying attention, yes, this is a second Grevillea – because they are such wonderful plants and so under utilised. They will cope with the strongest salt-laden winds, flower longer than any other plant and come in a myriad of colours, shapes and sizes. Do plant them!
9. Crab apple (Malus). I have a crab apple in my garden but this one flowers more profusely than mine, which is more shaded. Apples need cold winters to fruit and so you can’t enjoy the coloured (if inedible) pomes in Sydney, but it really is nice to see some blossom. Not a through and through Sydney plant but one that will grow here with little attention required. If you are looking for some blossom this is the best choice.
10. Unknown tree/small shrub. I need your help here. I have only ever seen this plant once, in a garden on Middle Head Road in Mosman. A horticultural friend could not identify this plant either, but we both agree on its attractiveness (not a hard bar where plants are concerned, admittedly!). It was about 4m wide and tall and appears to be some kind of legume. Can you tell me what it is?
Do you have any other favourites to add to the list?