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  • Writer's pictureLawrie Smith AM

Lawrie's Plants of the Month: January

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


Arthur Streeton

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.


“Do you have a design in mind for your blog? Whether you prefer a trendy postcard look or you’re going for a more editorial style blog - there’s a stunning layout for everyone.”

Each month on this page, one of the many aspects of landscape that make a difference to us will be explored - ‘landscape’ is a term certainly applied in numerous distinctive ways:

Our wide Australian landscape is unique in all the world; the Glasshouse Mountains form a unique and dramatic landscape; an artist takes up brush and canvas to paint a landscape picture; a rectangular photo that is wider than it is high, has a landscape format; builders and demolition companies are busy changing the urban landscape of towns and cities; the suburban area in which we live is a landscape, sometimes natural, often newly built; we generally go out into the landscape for recreation and leisure; your private home landscape is most likely a lawn and a few garden shrubs or maybe vegetables; the best way for gardeners to save water is to grow a landscape with native plants; your garden terrace probably had a hard landscape of pavers, so perhaps you added plants to create a soft landscape?


The Australian Landscape


The tall, irregular, stately forms of a gum tree (pictured above) at are almost always the most iconic and distinctive vertical feature of any Australian landscape. That, together with the palette of organic colours, and bold textures of the landform, all sheltered under the umbrella of vibrant blue skies, creates a unique visual quality that cannot be mistaken for anywhere else on earth. The complimentary forms of the native flora enhance the overall landscape character. In interpreting the landscape of our sunburnt country, every artist from the First Nations to contemporary times, have been inspired by these simple ever-present natural features. This is our landscape heritage which we treasure.


Plants of the Month: January


Mid-summer is one of the most difficult seasons for floral diversity in the landscape and garden, due to the unsettled and diverse weather, intense periods of heat and humidity, often torrential rainfall, wind and storms. Never the less, a distinctive group of native species tolerate, even thrive in these conditions.


Ivory Curl Tree

‘Ivory Curl Tree’

Buckinghamia celsissima

The natural habitat of this spectacular tree is the wet tropic rainforests of Queensland but it thrives in most other situations. An excellent small, dense and globular tree which literally covers the leaf canopy with massed sprays of cream flowers. A close relative of the Macadamia nut, Banksia and Grevillea it is an ideal street tree or garden specimen.


Swamp Banksia

‘Swamp Banksia’

Banksia robur

Although it grows naturally along wetland edges, this Banksia is a very forgiving shrub that will tolerate much drier conditions.


Summer rain brings on the displays of amazing dense bottlebrushes, changing from tones of emerald to yellow which provide several months of garden display. The large sculptural leaves work well as an all-season garden accent plant.


Foxtail Palm

‘Foxtail Palm’

Wodyetia bifurcata

This rare and unusual palm was first discovered in 1978, and is found only on Cape Melville FNQ. The dense bushy leaf fronds hang decoratively around the top of the trunk, like foxes’ tails, which provide the common name. Huge decorative flower spikes display in spring, followed by dramatic clusters of egg size fruits providing summer colour and interest.



Cape York Lilly

‘Cape York Lily’

Curcuma australasica

This attractive understory tufting plant, a native herb or spice,also known and used as Native Tumeric. The bulb spends winter lying dormant underground, and in spring the attractive pink flowers emerge, followed by the tall emerald green leaves. Makes an excellent container plant or a massed display in a shaded moist section of the garden.







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