Newspaper article The Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Australia)

Be Firewise in the Garden; Bulletin Columnist Neil Fisher Is from Fisher's Nursery, North Rockhampton. You Can Chat with Neil on Radio 4ro's Gardening Hour after the 6am News on Tuesdays

Newspaper article The Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Australia)

Be Firewise in the Garden; Bulletin Columnist Neil Fisher Is from Fisher's Nursery, North Rockhampton. You Can Chat with Neil on Radio 4ro's Gardening Hour after the 6am News on Tuesdays

Article excerpt

Byline: NEIL FISHER

AS we move to the warmer months there is one thing gardeners living close to wilderness areas should remember.

Are you prepared for a bushfire? In Rockhampton it has been five years since the biggest bushfire in the town's history and I think many gardeners may have forgotten about the risks.

Also there are many new housing estates with new gardeners who may have never planned a firewise garden.

The first thing you need to know is there is no such thing as a fireproof plant.

However there are plants that are less susceptible to burning and these are best called firewise plants.

These plants have the following traits: thick, fleshy leaves, a high salt content in the leaves and those with thick, milky sap and leathery leaves are often hard to burn.

At the other end of the scale are the fire risk plants and include most wattle varieties, most cypresses, most bamboos, Athel pines and olives.

Trees like eucalypts have a remarkable ability to regrow after severe bushfires, but the trees themselves do not retard fire.

Their leaves contain high concentrations of volatile oils that make them prone to fire. The foliage and timber can explode with heat and is often responsible for starting spot fires ahead of the main fire front.

While there has not been a formal study into bushfire-tolerant plants for Central Queensland there was an opportunity to talk with many gardeners following the 2009 Rockhampton bushfire.

It was very noticeable that many plants could tolerate even the worst bushfire.

Added to that are the studies from the United States, in particular Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles County Department of Works has over many years provided an informative firewise plant list for gardeners.

Many of the plants they recommend are also plants that are commonly grown in the Rockhampton region.

Firewise groundcovers

Agapanthus orientalis or Lily of the Nile is a hardy flowering lily producing large blue or white flowers during the summer months. Agapanthus is easy to grow and will tolerate soils from sandy and well drained to heavy clay. It is important to remember that they do not require a lot of water once they have established.

Convolulus cneorum or silver bush is a silver foliaged groundcover that provides something different for the garden with masses of large white flowers produced during the warmer months. It is excellent as a specimen plant and is ideal for borders and pots on patios.

It handles sun or part shade, is salt and drought tolerant and frost hardy.

Gazanias scandens is available in several colours, and may be planted as a colour mix or as a single colour for greater impact. Gazanias flower throughout most of the year, slowing down and going off flower in winter.

The silver leaf gazania is different to the other gazanias in that its leaves are a very attractive silver/grey in colouration. …

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