Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Sunday (Maroochydore, Australia)

In Eye-Catching Fashion; Valerie and Gerry Zwart Say Colourful Native Plant Offers Versatile Options to Dress Up Yards

Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Sunday (Maroochydore, Australia)

In Eye-Catching Fashion; Valerie and Gerry Zwart Say Colourful Native Plant Offers Versatile Options to Dress Up Yards

Article excerpt

A DELIGHTFUL native shrub flowering very well now is the Blue Tongue or Native Lasiandra (Melastoma affine), a bushy evergreen shrub that grows well in sun or part shade.

These shrubs are native to SE Asia and tropical/sub-tropical areas of Australia, producing their lovely large lilac-mauve flowers with prominent yellow stamens on and off throughout the year, usually more heavily in spring and summer here. They grow about 1-1.5m tall and 1m wide, and the flowers are about 8cm or more across, standing out very well against the rich green, heavily veined, long leaves that have quite a rough texture, creating a most attractive shrub even when it's not flowering.

For those with limited space, Melastomas can be grown in large tubs containing good potting soil, and they are eye-catching in garden beds either as a feature or mixed garden, while planted each side of the drive looks good at the entrance to a property.

Anyone with a long garden bed beside the drive, could plant them as a free-form hedge beside the dividing fence, creating a good backdrop for a variety of other plants eg a mixture of pink and purple Pentas scattered in front, and a border of seasonal choices such as yellow pansies, white alyssum, blue lobelia or other flowers of your choice.

The Pentas lanceolata 'Cheers Mix' are annuals in cooler climates, but we believe they can be treated as perennials here as long as we don't get frost, so we don't need to worry about that, thank goodness. These latest forms are available in pink, red, violet and white, and can be purchased in ten-packs, and they grow up to 30cm tall and 15cm wide, love the full sun, grow well in pots or garden beds, and appreciate liquid fertiliser every couple of weeks.

The flowers are produced in showy clusters above the lush foliage, and as with the other plants do best in well-drained soil. …

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