The Original House of Xanthorrhoea

seedlings of Daviesia horrida, Beaufortia elegans and Hakea cristata

Planting endemic species in your garden saves water, attracts wildlife and makes for a beautiful garden. Last week I went to a plant sale held by the Eastern Hills Branch of the Wildflower Society of Western Australia. I bought seedlings of three plants for my garden:

They’re all shrubs, and compared to eucalyptus they are small, but the hakea grows to 2-3m, so that at least will be pretty tall.

the nasty little acacia sends up shoots all the time. I mowed the lawn and killed this one

I bought these plants for my garden because I want to remove the acacia next to the front of my house. I hate seeing trees chopped down, but this is a South African acacia that was popular as a garden tree in the past. It has huge root systems that send up shoots and because we don’t have any giraffes, it’s become a weed in Western Australia. I’ve wanted to get rid of it for a while, but it will be difficult because of the roots and at present it shades an east facing window (of my badly positioned house). The tree makes the house cooler in summer and I’ve already planted a tuart (Eucalyptus gomphocephala) to the east of the acacia, which I’m hoping will shoot up and start to shade the house. The tuart is about three years old and only a metre high.

the three year old tuart in my garden

The tuart is very special to me because it’s self-sown, but also it reminds me of the house I used to live in. I rented the house on a large block in a nearby suburb. The original blocks in this suburb are now rapidly being subdivided, but this block had not been. At the back was a stand of tuarts and jarrah (Eucalyptus marginata), with smaller shrubs (and weeds) between them. The trees may have been original plants which were hundreds of years old. It was beautiful and the birds (and other animals I didn’t see) loved it. There were also about half a dozen Xanthorrhoea, some more than two metres high and they would have been original vegetation (hundreds of years old). There were also a number of xanthorrhoea that were very young – progeny of the older ones.

The tuart popped up next to a tomato plant I had in a pot. There were lots of tuarts, so I assumed that’s what it was, but there were also jarrahs. I re-potted the tuart and took it with me when I left. It was in a pot for a couple of years and at the start of this year I planted it in my current garden. Tuarts grow very tall and drop branches unexpectedly, but I’ll be long gone by then – hopefully the tuart will have a longer life than me. I’m also hoping the birds and other wildlife will love the tuart as it grows and the other endemic species I’m planting.

the orange roof in the middle is my previous house. The trees at the back look like a forest from above

I left my previous house two and a half years ago and knew that at some stage the property would be subdivided and the vegetation cleared. Last year I drove past my old house and there was no house. At that stage the trees and xanthorrhoea at the back of the block were still standing, but I don’t know for how much longer. I hope Grasstrees Australia may remove the xanthorrhoea and sell them to people establishing gardens, but it’s likely the tuart and jarrah will be wood chipped. I was in the area last week, but I didn’t want to drive past in case the trees have been cleared. I want to remember them how they were, but memories won’t help the wildlife that lost their habitat.

The Kings Park Wildflower Festival, held in September every year, also sells endemic plants for Perth gardens.


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