Difficult rhododendron bursts with color

The native rhododendron… bursting with color, it has darkish shiny leaves with massive clusters of pink, bell-like flowers. Photograph: Jackie Warburton

Gardening author JACKIE WARBURTON appears to be like at native rhododendrons, kangaroo paws, Proteas and lizards on this week’s column. 

NATIVE rhododendrons are flowering now on the Australian Botanic Gardens.

Jackie Warburton.

Bursting with color, they’ve darkish, shiny leaves with massive clusters of pink, bell-like flowers. 

Gradual rising, it has fibrous roots that must be stored moist. It would develop in full shade. If wanting on the nursery, it’s additionally offered as Vireya Rhododendron or Rhododendron lochiae. 

A local to Queensland tropics, it could possibly be difficult to develop within the floor in our local weather, nevertheless it’s a small shrub that may be simply grown in a pot and introduced inside for winter. 

Top-of-the-line actions to do on a summer season’s day is to stroll by way of the Botanic Gardens’ rainforest gully to admire the luxurious vegetation from various rainforests in Queensland to Tasmania, and see this plant in flower as nicely. 

THE pink and inexperienced hybrid kangaroo paws (Anigozanthos) are placing on a present. 

Nowadays there are lots of varieties, large and small, to select from. One in every of my favorite kangaroo paws is “‘Masquerade” with its uncommon teal and purple color. A tricky, all-round Australian plant, it’s tolerant of ink spot and rust resistant. Nevertheless, it is perhaps laborious to supply on the nursery, however value a strive. 

As soon as stems from outdated clumps of kangaroo paws have completed flowering, they must be lower out on the base or eliminated. Like irises, they flower solely as soon as. Clear out all of the outdated leaf litter to assist the daylight to get into the centre of the clump and type new shoots. As nicely, trim foliage to 10-15 centimetres and feed with a local, natural fertiliser. 

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IN Australia, now we have adopted Proteas as our personal as a result of they develop nicely in our local weather and soils. Native to South Africa, they’re in the identical plant household as a lot of our natives similar to Banksias and Grevilleas. 

Coming into flower quickly, Protea flowers have long-lasting blooms and make a long-lasting lower flower as nicely. Their colors vary from whites and lotions to pinks and reds. They like full solar and good drainage with barely acid soil. 

Proteas could be troublesome to propagate and are sluggish to flower. For instance, king proteas can take as much as six years to flower, so just a little persistence can be wanted. 

Preparation of the soil, in anticipation of planting proteas, could be carried out now by turning over the soil and including sand and gypsum to the bottom. 

A shingleback or bobtail lizard… closely armoured with a triangular formed head and a shiny blue tongue. Photograph: Jackie Warburton

IN the northern finish of Canberra and in surrounding bushland areas round Mulligans Flat, hold an eye fixed out for a species of blue-tongue lizard known as shinglebacks or bobtails. 

Close to black in color, they appear closely armoured with a triangular-shaped head and a shiny blue tongue. They don’t have venom or poison, however this slow-moving skink can damage if it bites you. 

They reside for about 20 years or extra and mate for all times. Shinglebacks are omnivores and feed on a weight-reduction plan of vegetation and bugs, however being slow-moving, they catch solely a small variety of bugs and snails.

Shinglebacks fairly just like the strawberry patch, so bodily obstacles is perhaps wanted if they’re noticed there. 

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When you’ve seen blue-tongue lizards within the yard in the course of the day, they might greater than doubtless be sunbaking and minding their very own enterprise. At evening, they retreat to leaf litter and sleep below logs. Depart them alone and they’ll depart you alone. 

However depart a strawberry or two the place you see them, together with a shallow dish of water, to maintain them round consuming all of the snails, slugs and bugs. 

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Ian Meikle, editor