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  • Writer's pictureLawrie Smith AM

Lawrie's Plants of the Month: February

‘Landscape Matters’ to us all, even though it may not always be immediately obvious.

Expanding residential areas of Moreton Bay from Narangba Valley to Redcliffe

Our lives, personal environment and lifestyle are constantly enriched by the landscape we regularly experience; not only through plants and gardens, but in many other beneficial ways.

“It is vital to ensure that the existing diverse natural character of the new and rapidly expanding urban areas is identified, planned and managed to retain and celebrate their botanic and visual differences.”

We are fortunate to live in Moreton Bay a region with a very diverse and attractive natural landscape which is strongly influenced by the varied topography sweeping inland from the eastern foreshores to the foothills and ranges of the west and north. A diverse system of waterways meander across this regional landscape, each providing specialised landscape corridors defined by cascading waterfalls, creeks and rivers, lakes, dams, wide estuaries and wetlands. Every one of these environments display a specialised, attractive and useful plant community, all directly related to the varied landform, soils and waterways. Within this subtropical landscape mosaic, over the past 100 years a city has been slowly emerging, formed by many localities each separated but defined by the local natural landscape elements to create their own special character. Think of the differences between the character of Redcliffe, Petrie, Caboolture, Samford and Woodford, now all part of the one rapidly expanding urban locality abutting Moreton Bay.

It is vital to ensure that the existing diverse natural character of the new and rapidly expanding urban areas is identified, planned and managed to retain and celebrate their botanic and visual differences. Obviously, if our city expansion is carefully integrated within and inspired by this quality preserved natural landscape mosaic, then for all time this will define the urban and suburban character. Moreton Bay has the opportunity now, and only once to create a city that is environmentally responsible, and celebrates a unique enduring natural landscape that has the potential to rank with other ‘garden’ cities such as Canberra. That is the basic reason why ‘the local landscape of Moreton Bay matters’.

Plants of the Month: February

These four local native species represent the four major landscape zones of the Moreton Bay area – coastal, wetland, riverine and hills. Although each is found naturally in a differing zone, they are versatile and will tolerate most other site conditions. These are only a few of the many attractive species that contribute to the flora diversity of the region.

Coastal Banksia

‘Coastal Banksia'

Banksia integrifolia

The natural habitat of this attractive tree is along the coast in sandy moist soils, often in full exposure to sun and sea breezes. The yellow ‘bottlebrush’ flower spikes are displayed attractively over the canopy in contrast with the evergreen leaves. This tree with an open, upright, sometimes irregular form, is an ideal street or garden specimen, and very attractive to honey eating birds.

Paperbark Tea Tree

‘Paperbark Tea Tree’

Melaleuca quinquenervia

Although found naturally in the wetter soils of coastal wetlands, this ‘Paperbark’ tree will also tolerate much drier conditions. Late summer rains stimulate many pale cream bottlebrush flower spikes, laden with nectar to attract birds and bees. The new apple green leaves turn dusty green and together with the decorative peeling bark, provide an all-season accent plant.

Black Bean

‘Black Bean’

Castanospermum australe

This tall graceful evergreen tree, found naturally as part of the riverine rainforest along local hinterland waterways, makes an ideal specimen shade tree. Decorative yellow and orange pea flowers display in clusters under the canopy in summer, followed by large woody green pods with several egg size brown fruits (non-edible), providing early autumn colour and interest.

Diamond-leafed Pittosporum

‘Diamond-leafed Pittosporum’

Auranticarpa rhombifolia

This very attractive upright habit tree from the drier hillsides, will provide three consecutive seasons of colour interest, displayed over the decorative diamond shape dark green leaves. In spring to summer attractive large heads of creamy white flowers cover the tree canopy, followed by massed clusters of pea size orange seed capsules which persist decoratively well into autumn.


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