Some Special Plants

Of the hundreds of native plants at the Bushland Garden, we give you a selection of some we think are particularly special – and suitable for gardens.

South Esk PineCallitris oblonga ssp oblonga

There is much to like about this attractive small pine, which has become something of a signature plant at the Bushland Garden. The subspecies is endemic to Tasmania, being found only in the valleys of some East Coast rivers (South Esk, St Pauls, Apsley, Swan), where it typically grows along river banks, and a small occurrence in the Cataract Gorge at Launceston. The limited, and shrinking, distribution means it is ‘Endangered’ and Vulnerable’, so that growing in gardens and other places is helping to preserve it. We have many good specimens at the Bushland Garden, all derived from Pulchella Nursery.

It has a compact growth habit, with very dense branches, unlike its more open relative the Oyster Bay Pine (Callitris rhomboidea). It grows to a maximum height of about 5 m, and width of 2 m, making it an ideal plant for gardens. The dense foliage is soft to the touch, and often has an attractive bluish-green colour – similar to, but nicer than, the American blue spruce, in my opinion. If planted in a reasonably damp spot, or with good deep soil, the foliage comes right to the ground, to form a pleasing conical shape. In drier situations, there may be some bare stems showing beneath the foliage. It works well in containers, and makes an excellent Christmas tree.

Two young South Esk Pines 

A South Esk Pine beside an Oyster Bay Pine 

Matted Bushpea - Pultenaea pedunculata

This is a charming prostrate groundcover plant which spreads to a metre or so across and likes to trail over rocks and walls. It forms a dense mat of soft fine foliage and has a mass of bright yellow-orange pea flowers in Spring and Summer. It is at home in dry areas, thrives in full sun, and prefers well-drained soil. It is probably our most successful groundcover.
Pultenaea pedunculata trails over low rock walls at the Memorial Garden.

Detail of flowers. 

Stinky Boronia Boronia anemonifolia

Despite the name, this is a delightfully aromatic and free-flowering boronia, typical of the sandstone and granite country of the East Coast. It is easy to grow, favouring sandy to well-drained soils, with dappled shade or full sun if the roots are well mulched. The flowers have pink buds, opening to four white or pink petals. Stems are notably glandular and sticky. The smell comes easily from brushing against the foliage. 

Boronia anemonifolia in full flower – note glandular stems. 

Boronia anemonifolia growing over native pigface (Carpobrotus rossii). 

Southern Grevillea - Grevillea australis

The only naturally occurring grevillea in Tasmania, this creamy-white -flowering species has a number of forms and is a reliable hardy garden plant attractive to birds. The bigger forms can grow up to 3 m high and 3 m across, but there are smaller and even prostrate forms. The leaf form varies from spiky to elliptical, and there are many similarities to hakeas. It is widespread from coastal to alpine habitats, and is easy to grow. It likes full sun and well-drained soil.
Grevillea australis – Tasmania’s very own grevillea 

Close up of grevillea flowers 

Dusty DaisybushOlearia phlogopappa

Of the many daisy bushes, this one with the funny name is one of the best for the garden. It flowers profusely for us in and around the quarry at TBG, and lights up the area in early summer. The flowers, which can almost completely cover the bush, are generally white, with a yellowish centre, but blue and pink varieties are also known and available. Bushes can grow up to 2 m high and 1 m across. It’s easy to grow, in a sunny well-drained position.

Olearia phlogopappa in full flower near the quarry pond, above a flowering Pultenaea pedunculata, some curling everlasting (Coronidium scorpioides), and a superb sculpture by Jaffa Rascal. 

Olearia phlogopappa detail 

Yellow DogwoodPomaderris elliptica

This handsome shrub or small tree is very garden-friendly. It has attractive glossy green leaves and abundant yellow flowers in terminal clusters which light up the garden in spring. It grows to 3-5 m high and 2-3 m wide. It is reliable and hardy, and prefers a dampish well-drained site with dappled shade.

There are several other Pomaderris species which are also excellent garden plants. P. pilifera (Hairy Dogwood), P. phylicifolia (Narrowleaf Dogwood), P. oraria (Bassian Dogwood), and P. elachophylla (Small-leaf Dogwood) are all recommended.

Three Pomaderris elliptica bushes at the Granite Bed, with some flowering hakeas.