Australian National Botanic Gardens has an enormous collection of Australian indigenous plants, and it plays a leading role in research, education and conservation. Australian plants come from a wide range of climatic conditions, so when necessary the soil in the Gardens is adapted, and varied micro climates created to suit their differing needs.
This is the place to go to see unusual native plants, including species under threat of extinction. Here are just a few of the treasures I saw a few weeks ago, on a cold sunny day in July.
This Acacia, o'shanesii species, is new to me. It grows naturally in tropical areas and will be familiar to gardeners and bush lovers in New South Wales and Queensland.
Canberra's climate is cold and dry, unsuited to growing ferns. So rainforest plants were planted inside a gully and nature's inadequate rainfall was supplemented with a fine misty watering system.
|the rainforest gully|
Grass trees are found only in Australia. Very slow growing, they are not as common in the wild as they once were. Fortunately, they respond to cultivation and are currently fashionable in contemporary garden design. Flowers are borne on a long spike. The one below has finished flowering.
Grass trees had many uses in traditional Aboriginal society. People collected nectar from the tall flowering spikes. Young leaves and roots were eaten, tough leaves used as knives and a sticky resin at the base of the leaves was used as adhesive.
|Xanthorrhoea glauca subsp. angustifolia|
Eucalyptus saligna, or Blue Gum, is a tall fast growing hardwood tree used in the timber industry. It is found mainly on the east coast of Australia, but has been planted in Western Australia for the sawmill industry.
Grevilleas have unusual cheerful spidery flowers. I love them. They are a large genus consisting of about 360 species of evergreen flowering plants that vary greatly in shape and size. Many are easy to grow and are popular garden specimens. I have several in my garden.
This species, G. leptobotrys, a low, spreading, prostrate shrub, grows in woodland in the south west of Western Australia and is classified as a threatened species. Despite its attractiveness, it has not been successful in the horticultural trade because it is fussy and has not survived well in gardens.