It’s easy to get excited about gardens this time of year. Spring is a near promise, and the best (or worst) part of winter, is behind us. Our National floral emblem, the Golden Wattle (or for the plant nerds), Acacia pycnantha, is putting on a spectacular display and the contrast of its yellow blossom against the back-drop of black ironbark trunks and the blue-grey foliage of the forest is breathtaking.
In fact, many wattle species make themselves known this time of year but acacias offer more than just a spring flurry and it’s worth considering them as a handy garden plant.
Many people think that wattles are shortlived and in some cases this is true, but there are dozens of species of wattle, both long and shortlived, that can be useful in the home garden.
A c a c i a deanii or Dean’s Wattle grows locally around Reedy Lake and is one of the larger and longer lived varieties.
This plant grows four to five metres and can be great as a screening plant or small shade tree. The foliage is fern-like, the blossom, pale yellow and it is perfect planted close to a window because it attracts a wide range of bush-land birds, so you can spy on them while you have your breakfast.
The Golden Wattle as well as the Golddust (Acacia acinacea) and Mallee Wattle (Acacia montana) are all relatively short-lived varieties but their contribution to a developing garden should not be under-valued. In particular, they are all great species if you want fast growth, generally exceeding one metre within the first eighteen months. This can be helpful if you’re waiting for other slowgrowing plants to establish. They don’t need much attention and will give you an abundant display of yellow blossom in September and October. Once again, the small birds love the protection and habitat they provide and when they do start to senesce, they fix nitrogen into the soil for successive plants, granting them the title of ‘colonisers’. If you’re lucky, you’ll even have them self-seed elsewhere which in my book is value for money.
One other favourite indigenous acacia of the box-ironbark region is the Spreading Wattle or A c a c i a genistifolia. This plant will grow to two metres in good conditions and likes stoney g r o u n d . Unlike the other species, it starts flowering in early May, making it the first Wattle to flower for the year. Its blossom is delightfully large and lemon-coloured and its foliage is needle-like so even though it’s probably best planted away from pathways, it is excellent for small birds, especially when there are cats prowling the neighbourhood.
All of these species are readily available at your friendly native plant nursery and all are indigenous to Rushworth so by planting them you are contributing to the natural environment, which is always a good thing.