The other massive plant group that is quintessentially Australian is the gum tree, or Eucalyptus. We were travelling in early Spring really, the big wattle season, and so flowering gums were not to be seen in any numbers. But nevertheless, in some warmer parts, they were just beginning to do their thing. I mentioned lampshade trimming in the last post, and then thought ‘How many people under 60 would even know what that was?’- and I had a bit of a laugh to myself. My mother was a fervent lampshade maker, and as a child, I adored the brilliantly coloured strings of…well, take a look at the photograph above, and there you have it- lampshade trimming. Even down to the brilliant colours.
These gums can be enormous- causing a lot of squinting upwards and neck straining- not to mention the fact that at least 40 photos bit the dust because of the breeze. The slightest hint of a breeze and the flowers bob about furiously. Much frustration from a 5 foot nothing photographer, including more than a few swear words.
These trees can also be large shrubs and many are much more frost tolerant than you might imagine being as how they come from Australia. Hardy to -8C is not uncommon, so they are seriously worth a look if you want a stunning tree not often grown in the UK. Watch out for suckering though, some do so rather aggressively.
I am doing my best with the identification of each one, but this carries a risk of being significantly wrong. All the same, the links are there for my best fit identification of each photograph. The reds are stunning- but I also adored the calmer qualities of the cream variety, and the yellow flowers on what I think is Eucalyptus woodwardii were big and fluffy, in fact from a distance I thought it was a wattle. The tiny photograph was taken this week by my flowering-gum friend in Melbourne, Dinah, who sent me photographs yesterday. Hot off the press.
In the Royal Botanical Gardens in Melbourne, on a hot and very sunny day in October, I had the chance to see some important, though ancient, roses flowering which I had really not expected. Now this rose below is a bit of a puzzle. The Botanical Gardens have her as ‘Rosa Frau Dagmar Hartop‘, but internet research shows that this rose is also called ‘Rosa Dagmar Hastrup’. It is the same rose. The original rose was apparently found as a chance seedling in 1914 in the Danish nursery of Knud Julianus Hastrup, whose wife was called Dagmar. I think that this should settle it, but I have kept the name as used in Melbourne. Suffice to say, it is a small, tough rugosa, with thick, almost engraved leaves which colour up coral in the autumn, and the flowers are charmingly single and continuously appear through the season. It was looking pretty cool about life in very hot sunshine and baked dry soil.
Rosa hugonis is named for Father Hugo, Hugh Scanlan, a priest who sent seeds back to Kew from China in 1899. Tough, reliable and very thorny, this rose is one of the first to flower in the season and will flower for a couple of months. The autumn bonus is the colouring of the foliage which turns red.
Rosa xanthina Canary Bird is a bigger beast- arching branches spread to 2-3 m wide and high. It flowers early and is not fond of cold starts. But the golden flowers with their exotically sized stamens are very pretty. The history of it is unknown, it just arrived on the scene in 1945.
Naming is a tricky thing- this rose may be rosa xanthina f. spontanea, as most other xanthina roses are semi-double, but no matter. It is another sweet yellow rose, fading to cream at the outer edges of the petals, and with the same exotically sized stamens as Canary Bird. It should be another bigger, arching shrub rose, probably of Chinese origin, and may have originally been called Rosa Manchu. It handles poor soil and dryness, blooms densely early in the season, and gives a bit more with beautiful red hips at the back end of summer.
All these roses are singles- so aside from their coping qualities in sun and dryness, poor soil and early starts, they offer more to pollinators than any other type of rose you can buy. Seems a good idea to favour the hard-pressed pollinator to me. Good ideas from Australia.