Text and images by Warren Sheather
December heralds the start of summer with high temperatures and hopefully seasonal storms bringing welcome rain. We have a range of plants lighting up the garden this month.
Callistemon Packers Selection develops into a small shrub, reaching a height of 1.5 metres, with pendulous growth habit. Leaves are about 4 cm long by 4 mm wide. The conspicuous brushes are deep red fading to a duller colour as they age. Brushes are 9 cm long by 3 cm wide.
Shrubs often carry flowers throughout the year with flushes during the warmer months. Callistemon "Packers Selection" is a variant of the well-known Callistemon subulatus that arose in a tray of seedlings in a Sydney nursery.
Propagate from cuttings to maintain the desirable characteristics of this cultivar.
Eucalyptus stricta, the Blue Mountains Mallee, may reach a height of five metres. In the wild, plants usually develop multiple stems. In cultivation plants often have a single trunk that is smooth and cream-green to brown.
Buds are carried in clusters from 3 to 11. The white to cream flowers are profuse and 1.5 centimetres across. Flowering extends from summer to autumn.
Eucalyptus stricta is common in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney and usually occurs on sandstone within 160 kilometres of Sydney.
Hemiandra pungensis a member of the Lamiaceae family in company with the Westringias and Prostantheras ( Mint Bushes). Its common name is Snakebush and is a native of Western Australia.
Snakebush is a dense ground cover, with a spread of about one metre. It has sharply pointed, linear-lanceolate leaves.
Flowers are 2 cm across with 5 large lobes and may be white with spots, rose-pink, mauve-pink or lilac.
The main flowering period is between October and January. Flowers are profuse and conspicuous. They are probably the largest flowers of any of the Australian members of the Lamiaceae family.
Propagate from cuttings.
Prostanthera serpyllifolia is known as the Thyme-leaved Mint Bush. This dwarf, spreading shrub reaches a height of one metre with a similar spread.
Small leaves are one centimetre long, ovate, deep green, crowded, glossy and aromatic.
Flowers are tubular, 2 cm long and compressed sideways. Blooms may be reddish with yellow tips, bluish-green or yellow. The flowering period extends from August to December and at this time blooms are both eye-catching and copious. Cuttings produce roots rapidly.
Pultenaea foliolosa is known as the Small-leaf Bush-pea and is a dwarf to medium shrub.
Growth habit may be upright or spreading. Leaves are small, less than 4 mm long, almost circular, crowded, soft and mid green.
Flowers are pea-shaped, carried in leaf axils, usually solitary, yellow and orange and often conspicuous. Flowers appear between August and January.
Many native peas with these flower colours are known collectively as "Eggs and Bacon". Pultenaea foliolosa is found in all eastern mainland states.
Eucalyptus apiculata - the Narrow-leaved Mallee Ash, is another mallee with character.
Scaveola Mauve Clusters is a great favourite at this time of year.