Dry Area Wattles

Joan Dillon

  Print This Page


The wattle really is an iconic Australian plant. It is depicted on our Coat of Arms, is the gold on national sports uniforms and the subject of songs. When in flower many species provide cheerful swathes of colour in the garden and wider landscape. A massed display of wattles in flower is impossible to miss. Joan Dillon examines the virtues of the wattle on a recent trip inland.

Wattles are found in most parts of Australia yet dominate the vegetation in drier regions. Some species are not popular with graziers due to their suckering habit and others have an undeserved reputation for triggering allergic reactions. The large pollen grains are not designed for wind dispersal. Small wind dispersed pollens of grasses are more usually the culprits. Wattle seed from Acacia victoriae, a widespread species in inland areas, is utilised in the bush food industry and furniture is made from the timber of the Blackwood (Acacia melanoloxylon). Wattles have many and varied uses. Cultivars of some species, usually from temperate Australia, have been developed for gardens.

There are approximately 1000 Australian species coming in all shapes and sizes from large trees to rockery plants. What is surprising is the limited number of species in cultivation, particularly in areas to which they are so well suited. Wattles are well known pioneer species and some which are widely cultivated are weed-like. It is best to grow those from your own area rather than from another state or region. Others have a reputation for being short lived, but in the right place they are worth growing anyway.

From a 6 page Feature Article in Issue Twenty Three
Acacia decora.
Acacia grandifolia.
Acacia rigens (prostrate).
Warm Climate Bulbs,Tubers and Rhizomes

Paul Plant

  Print This Page



Following on from the extensive article on Bulbs in Issue 19, Editor Paul Plant provides an additional listing of plants which grow from bulbs, tubers or rhizomes and thrive in humid tropical and subtropical climates.

We identify the following:

  • Agapanthus (Agapanthus cultivars)
  • Amazon Lily (Eucharis amazonica)
  • Blackberry Lily (Iris domestica syn. Belamcanda chinensis)
  • Blue Ginger (Dichorisandra thyrsiflora)
  • Blue Hippeastrum (Worsleya procera syn. Worsleya rayneri)
  • Canna (Canna spp.)
  • Clivia (Clivia miniata)
  • Corpse Flower (Amorphophallus spp.)
  • Curcuma (Curcuma spp.)
  • Day Lily (Hemerocallis flava)
  • Ginger Lily (Hedychium spp.)
  • Globba Ginger (Globba winitii)
  • Heliconia (Heliconia spp.)
  • Mini Amazon (Caliphruria subedentata syn. Eucharis fosteri)
  • Paintbrush Lily (Haemanthus spp.)
  • Resurrection Lily (Kaempferia spp.)
  • Spider Lily (Hymenocallis spp.)
  • Tacca (Tacca leontopetaloides)
  • Trumpet Ginger (Siphonochilus spp.)
  • Walking Iris (Trimezia martinicensis syn. Iris martinicensis)
From an 4 page Feature Article in Issue Twenty Three
Clivia miniata.
Caliphruria subedentata syn. Eucharis fosteri.
In the true spirit of Gaia
Noel Burdette



If reaping what you sow is a law unto itself, then there would barely be any room left in storage for the owner of one of Brisbane’s most romantic and inspirational gardens. Nurseryman and confirmed plant-a-holic Noel Burdette discovers the spirit behind this garden of paradise.

Tucked away in the natural leafy suburb of Bellbird Park of Brisbane’s western district, Mother Nature’s Laughter is a garden lovingly tendered by its owner Antonia McCaskie.

Moving here twenty-two years ago in 1989, Antonia knew that she had the work cut out for her from day one as the barren block in the rear of the garden, came readymade with its own set of challenges if she wanted to create a rainforest. Except for a single small jacaranda, the steep site was bare and any strong rainfall on the impoverished soil would result in major erosion problems.

From a 7 page Feature Article in Issue Twenty Three
 A riot of colour and mass  planting controls the weeds.
Allamanda 'Peach'
Secluded seating areas are ideal for enjoying the garden.
Glorious Tropical Ornamental Gingers

Paul Plant

  Print This Page


The below item complements this article read in the current issue:

Book reviews for both volumes of Carnivorous Plants and their Habitats by Stewart McPherson.

Carnivorous Supplement



Few plants have inspired books, movies and a musical. The Venus Fly Trap is the inspiration for Audrey II from the “Little Shop of Horrors”, and pitcher plants inspired the post-apocalyptic book “The Day of the Triffids” by John Wyndham which was adapted into various television productions.

These plants are not as sinister as they are depicted in science fiction stories but in fact represent some of the most modified plants in the world
that have adapted themselves to their environment.

Editor Paul Plant continues on from the last issue with a look at seven more genera of carnivorous plants that are worth collecting or just appreciated for their natural beauty.

Genera covered in are:

  • Cephalotus – Albany Pitcher Plant
  • Heliamphora – Sun Pitcher Plants
  • Darlingtonia – Cobra Lily
  • Pinguicula – Butterworts
  • Byblis – Rainbow Plants
  • Aldrovanda – Waterwheel Plant
  • Utricularia – Bladderworts

From a 4 page Feature Article in Issue Twenty Three

Heliamphora – Sun Pitcher Plants.
Darlingtonia – Cobra Lily.
Garden plant names

The knowledge of botanical naming or nomenclature is the foundation to a great garden and a fascinating hobby, yet it is sometimes incorrectly regarded as superfluous for the home gardener. Continuing on from the article in Issue 21, subTropical Gardening presents more terms to help us all enjoy learning about the flora kingdom.

Topics covered are:

  • Family Name
  • Group Names
  • Grex

Other Terms

  • Synonyms
  • Misidentification
  • Misapplication
  • Marketing Names

From a 2 page Feature Article in Issue Twenty Three

PBR symbol for plant breeders rights
Buying and selecting a tree
Jill Coomb



When we first go into a nursery to buy a tree, be it a fruit tree, shade tree or really any tree imaginable, it is often the striking foliage or the distinctive flowers that entices us. However, the luscious appearance of your new tree may be deceiving. Horticulturist and nurserywoman
Jill Coomb examines the hidden secret of tree selection.

Rarely does one consider or inspect the root system when choosing a tree. Hidden away from sight the root system offers a vital insight into the future success of the tree.

Sadly most of us have experienced a poor performing tree and no matter how much love or care was offered, it never seemed to flourish. Often we blame ourselves when our new tree is not fruitful.
More frequently than not, a dwindling tree is often due to a poor root structure.

When a plant has an unhealthy root system it not only has limited growth, flower or fruit production, it can also be dangerous. An un-proportional root system can produce a highly unstable tree which may up-root itself or topple over during periods of heavy rain or wind.

To prevent a broken fence, or broken heart, in future it is recommended that all gardeners should inspect the root system when selecting your next tree.

Covering also Root Distortions, Pot-bound and Lopsidedness.


From a 2 page Feature Article in Issue Twenty Three

Severly root bound plant with curling roots forced outside the pots.
Ph/Fax 07 3294 8914 | PO Box 2232 Toowong QLD 4066 Australia
© 2005-2012 Subtropicalia Media Pty Ltd T/A Subtropical Gardening – All Rights Reserved   ABN 79 113 106 862