GARDENING COLUMN: Kershaw Gardens summer plant gems
During Summer afternoon walks are always such a pleasure. Ever the heat of the Summer days there are hundreds of flowering plant species in full bloom. This week I decided to walk the tracks of Kershaw Gardens. And I was amazed at the number different plants in full bloom. Many of the plants were even flowering out of season.
In many ways Rockhampton’s Kershaw Garden is a hidden gem for spending a quiet hour or two. Opened as Rockhampton’s second botanic garden Kershaw Gardens became one of the first Australian Native Plant gardens in the country.
Kershaw Gardens covers a one kilometer long section of the Bruce Highway and provides a variety of attractions from a family friendly Central Precinct with modern playground facilities, BBQ areas and the Stuart Fragrant Garden located beside the Knight Street carpark. Then there the Southern Precinct with granite paths meandering though established trees and flowering Native Shrubs.
This Precinct was badly damaged during Cyclone Marcia and some areas are still closed to the public. The Southern Precinct can be accessed directly from Dowling Street where there is a carpark as well.
Brachycombe multifida or Hawksbury River Daisy is one of my favourite little native daisies. It will only cover about a metre square, and is perfect as a garden edging plant, or positioned near landscape features such as old logs or rocks. Flowers are a delicate mauve daisy-type flower, with yellow centres.
Bracteantha bracteata or Everlasting Daisy is one of Australia’s most iconic native plants. The paper daisy flowers are available in colours ranging from yellow, orange, pink or white. Good as a cut flower the Bracteantha will grow up to 50cm high with mutable heads of flowers. This spectacular daisy looks very delicate yet is very tough for hot well drained positions.
Goodenia ovata or Prostrate Hop is a fast growing hardy ground cover with bright green, fleshy leaves, spreading to approximately 1.5m across. Masses of showy bright yellow flowers occur most of the year. Goodenia is frost resistant and is a very useful understorey plant for established gardens.
Graptophyllum thorogoodii or Scarlet Fuchsia is a bushy, erect shrub growing to 2m high. It will provide a profusion of red tubular flowers in spring that attracts honey-eating birds. For some reason the Scarlet Fuchsia has flowered through this Summer. This shrub will grow in sun or part shade in average to well drained soils.
Hibbertia scandens or Guinea Flower is a vigorous growing ground cover or small vine that is native to Central Queensland. It is always one of the brightest ground covers during the warmest part of the year with its beautiful yellow flowers.
Melaleuca Thymifolia is a small growing shrub 1m x 1.5m with small, oval bluish leaves. Deep purple brushes appear along the stems throughout the year. These hardy Melaleucas require a sunny but average position. There is also a white and pink flowering forms called White Lace and Pink Lace.
Phaleria clerodendron or Scented Daphne is a bushy tall shrub to small tree. The feature of this tree is the flowers and large red fruit are born along the branches and stems. During the warm months of the year Phaleria lights up with masses of fragrant white flowers the scent of which permeates through the garden. The large red fruit will attract a variety of birds to the garden including Cassowary’s if you lived in far north Queensland. The flesh of the fruit is stringy and reputed to be poisonous to humans.
Scaevola aemula Pink Perfection is a large-flowered pink form of the popular purple fan flower, Scaevola aemula. Masses of pink fan-shaped blooms appear throughout the year. Pink Perfection is a dense evergreen ground cover with almost succulent medium green coarsely toothed leaves. It’s perfect for growing in rockeries and will establish quickly to at least 2 metres in diameter yet won’t take over the garden.
Tulbaghia violacea or Society Garlic forms a small grass like clump with narrow leaves and large clusters of small fragrant, violet flowers. This member of the Onion family has either blue-green or variegated foliage. Very hardy in the right position but does need protection from the afternoon sun and frost.
Westringea fruiticosa ‘Zena’ is a dwarf form of the common Native Rosemary. Growing to 50cm high and 1m across makes it not only an exceptional shrub for people with salt water swimming pools, but also ideal for extremely exposed coastal conditions. Flowers are white in abundance several times a year.
If you find some of these plants of interest for your garden, why not visit a local nursery. While many of these plants may not be available all year round in most local nurseries, they should be able to be ordered from specialist nurseries for this garden.