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Trees in Brisbane
by Jan Flanigan
photographs by Jan Flanigan

Photographs to illustrate the article published in The Mediterranean Garden No 83, January 2016.

Just when Melissa Hamilton (TMG No 83) has convinced us that we should be filling our gardens with plants native to our region for the sake of the wildlife, Jan Flanigan tempts us beyond resistance with the glorious trees she can grow in her Brisbane garden.

She starts off in tune with Melissa by making a survey of all the birds which nest, feed and perch on her tall eucalyptus trees. One such is the tawny frogmouth.

Tawny frogmouth (Podargus strigoides) using the gum tree for camouflage, so it can get a good sleep during the day.

Jan gardens with plenty of Australian natives, including the hoop pine (Araucaria cunninghamii).

The bark of the hoop pine (Araucaria cunninghamii) here shown with the Blue Tiger butterfly

Queensland natives can have lovely flowers, as does the little evodia (Evodiella muelleri).

Little evodia, Evodiella muelleri

Jan writes: “It is usually winter before a lot of trees’ growth comes to a halt, making them lose their leaves, and then a not very long period before the warm spring weather spurs them into new leaf. Such trees include Liquidambar formosana, Robinia pseudoacacia ‘Frisia’, Euphorbia cotinifolia and red cedar (Toona ciliata).” 

Red cedar, Toona ciliata, just coming into leaf.

“One of my favourite genera of trees are the dombeyas which never completely lose their leaves but shed them during the dry periods. The largest is the red dombeya (Dombeya cacuminum) which is a spreading tree with huge maple-like leaves. In late winter and early spring it produces the most beautiful clusters of red bell-like flowers that hang down below the foliage, allowing one to stand under it and just admire and marvel at the wonders of nature.”

Red dombeya, Dombeya cacuminum

“Dombeya burgessiae has pink flowers and is a smaller tree. It is a mass of flowers from May through to August. The flowers turn brown on the tree which does not detract from its appearance; they are much loved by bees. This unusual tree grows more like a shrub, as wide as it is high, and it needs to be cut back after flowering.”

Dombeya burgessiae

“Early spring has its own delights when the tree waratah (Alloxylon flammeum), the yellow wood (Rhodosphaera rhodanthema) and the aptly named drunken parrot tree (Schotia brachypetala) are the stars of the garden with their dramatic red flowers.”

Tree waratah, Alloxylon flammeum

Drunken parrot tree, Schotia brachypetala

“ ….in late spring when the jacaranda produces its carpet-forming mauve blossoms, followed shortly after by the poinciana with its huge sweeping umbrella of red. The jacarandas and poincianas dominate the Brisbane scene in late spring...” 

Poinciana, Delonix regia

For summer flowers: “The deservedly popular crepe myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica) allows us to choose a range of colours from white through to darker shades of pink.”

Crepe myrtle, Lagerstroemia indica

Crepe myrtle is also one of the few trees to provide autumn leaf colour.

Caption: Crepe myrtle, Lagerstroemia indica, in autumn.
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