Saturday, 28 April 2007

More Street Trees and Shrubs

If there are benefits to a prolonged drought, one of them in Australia has to be the increased planting of native trees and shrubs that will survive without attention, particularly regular watering. Or perhaps I just didn't notice them in my non-gardening youth.

This banksia is growing on a neglected strip of grass behind a large hardware store in the oxymoronically named Blue Mountains suburb of Valley Heights. I think is a specimen of Banksia oblongifolia because its flowers are pale yellow and it is flowering now in autumn. All banksias are endemic to Australia. Members of the protea family, they are named for Sir Joseph Banks, the eminent botanist who travelled with Captain Cook. One of the interesting characteristics of banksias is that they hold their seeds for many years, either until the plant dies or is singed by fire.

Not far away is a she-oak, possibly Allocasuarina torulosa, judging by its warty cones. I remember that we had several growing near our home when I was a child, and we would cut a single branch to serve as a Christmas tree in this country that lacked the northern hemisphere's traditional firs. Nowadays, tree farms supply the real thing to those who can afford the very high prices they command.

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