When I visited my friends at Nuts about Natives a couple of weeks ago their yellow leschenaultia (Lechenaultia linarioides) were flowering. They looked so pretty that I wanted one for my garden. Ben told me I should plant it in the ground, not keep it in a pot. Most of the plants I get from Nuts about Natives are still in pots because I’m not sure where to plant them. When I was looking for a place to put the leschenaultia I realised that if I removed the agapanthus and ferns along the front of my house and replaced them with native plants, the birds and insects would love it and the garden would survive summer a lot better. The ferns die off during summer and come back green during the rain of winter. The agapanthus live happily through summer because they’re shaded by the acacia which grows outside my bedroom window.
The acacia is a South African species that was popular as a garden tree in the past, but is now a weed in Western Australia. I’ve been meaning to kill it for a while, but every time I ask my dad to get out the chainsaw, we decide the shade it gives to my east facing windows is too useful and the branches just get hacked at a bit (in a couple of months they’ve grown right back). The tuart (Eucalyptus gomphocephala) and hakea (Hakea cristata) I’ve planted are not yet tall enough to shade the house in the morning. Tuarts grow enormously tall and although it’s getting bigger and has shoots everywhere, it’s still only 2m.
There are a couple of reasons I baulk at killing the acacia, apart from its shade. I hate killing trees, noxious weed or not. And cutting the trunk at the base wouldn’t kill it. The roots spread throughout my garden and quite happily put up shoots. Herbicide might be only way to get rid of it all. Also the cats love climbing the acacia and jumping onto the roof from its branches. There’s also a horizontal branch which makes a nice cat seat. I know cats should not be a part of the decision, but there they are. The branches also regularly need pruning away from the power line to my house. It will go one day, maybe.
I also baulk at pulling out living plants, like agapanthus and ferns (even though they will be composted). When the agapanthus were flowering my mum said how pretty they were. When I thought of removing them I wondered if my mum would like some of them. She said no because they’re nasty weeds when they escape our gardens. So I should be killing them so their seed doesn’t end up somewhere else.
I’ve planted the leschenaultia already (and it’s flowered), but I’m not going to commence removal of its weedy neighbours until I have the new residents in my garden awaiting transplanting. If I removed the weeds tomorrow, I could see an empty expanse of dirt sitting there for months. My plan is to wait until the first rain of winter so the new plants won’t need watering to get established. And the current very hot weather (all but three days of February have been above 35ºC) is a bit too harsh for newly transplanted plants, even natives.
In the meantime I’m planning which species to add to my garden. I only want plants endemic to my local area, so the local animals enjoy them to the fullest extent. Last year I thought about planting woolly bushes (Adenanthos sericeus) along my front fence (they make a good hedge), but vegies ended up there because woolly bushes are native to Albany in southern WA. I still have one woolly bush in a pot, but it’s my Christmas tree. I recently planted out a Pimelea from a pot. I’m not sure of the species or whether it’s native to my area. The possible local contenders are:
- Native Wisteria (Hardenbergia comptoniana)
- Banksia (I really want a violet banksia because they are beautiful, but that comes from down south too)
- Feather flowers (Verticordia)