Planting trees on an empty block is a long-term investment achievement. We started ours with lilly pillies and jacarandas.
We did this on the same day we sowed more grass seed (with fast results!).
I ddn’t take any photos of the planting process, because it was getting late, the Oldest Hammerling was being a cranky teenager, and my phone was almost dead (that is how we take all our photos until one day when we get a good camera).
So, a few weeks back, the youngest boy Hammerling and I visited the local Sunday markets to pick up a few cheap plants.
Since then, we have discovered Landcare, an Australian organisation manned by people with real knowledge, that sell locally native plants far cheaper than people at the markets – plus, they can answer our questions with heaps of very helpful advice. Councils purchase plants from this organisation to beautify parks, median strips, highways, common ground etc.
Anyway, so we had these plants from the market. I was too impatient to just scope out what was there, then plan what I wanted, then go back. Little Master Hammer and I bought four Winter Lights Lilly Pillies (great for screening and privacy, and they’re fast-growing plants), two purple jacarandas (like what’s in our Top Ten Purple Plants) and one ‘rare’ jacaranda that the seller claimed will flower white.
It will take a fair few years to get any flowers on jacarandas of this size, so we won’t know if this claim is true for a good long while, but even if they’re purple flowers, the plant itself only cost $1 more than the purple ones. If they’re white flowers, that’s worth the extra buck. If it doesn’t, oh well. $1 doesn’t get you too far these days.
The Lilly Pillies were a bit brown and shrivelled, but still green inside the stem/sticks, so we put them in the ground. See what happens, right?
I didn’t take photos of the process of planting. It was impromptu, and the Biggest Hammerling was being a typical teenager, so we just got it done without photos.
The Biggest Hammerling dug me some holes. I poured in some Tomato Mix (yes, I know it’s for growing tomatoes and other veggies, but it can’t hurt helping to get these plants established. Or maybe it can. Dunno. It’s a 50/50 chance, yeah?).
After putting the plant in, I then covered it with regular potting mix, then covered it all over and mounded up around the base with red clay/dirt.
Why did we do this? Why not just fill the hole with the red clay/dirt?
Red clay is rather notorious for its non-porous nature. You can get a good puddle on top, but if you dig down, it’s only wet an inch or so deep. So I added the potting mixes to allow the water down deeper, until the plants establish a better root system.
Jacaradas thrive on neglect. They seemed pretty happy in their pots, where the lilly pillies suffered. We planted them in the same way as the lilly pillies, just to give them a bit more love.
We know jacarandas don’t need a lot of maintenance. When we moved into our old house, we didn’t realise a plant right next to the house was a jacaranda (didn’t know much about them). It was big, but too young to flower. We kept chopping it back, because those tiny leaves would clog up our gutters. It kept growing. We kept hacking it back. It kept growing.
By the time we moved out, it was still a large, but spindly, tree, which had just shown its first display of flowers. So we know from experience that they grow quickly, and can survive being treated poorly.
Interesting factoid: that jacaranda still had the pot around the base. Whoever had put it there didn’t actually plant it, just left it in the plastic pot. The root system had burst through the pot and buried itself.
Since I have researched maintenance of jacarandas, I’ve discovered you’re not supposed to cut it back. The shoots that grow afterwards are more prone to breaking off. Whoops.
We’ve placed these jacarandas in a spot they shouldn’t need to be cut back. In a few years, we’ll have decent sized trees that will bloom purple (and maybe white), and look pretty.
As you can see, they do indeed thrive on neglect. These jacarandas have even shot new growth.
We placed the four lilly pillies along the front border of the front yard. Because we live at the end of this semi-rural culdesac, we don’t actually need them in that particular spot for privacy, but because we’re not planning to fence the front yard, they’ll provide a good, green backdrop to the purple and black garden I have grand dreams of cultivating.
Actually, I am a little ashamed of this photo of one of the lilly pillies. I really did leave them too long in their pots without maintenance. But as I said, if a stick is broken, the innards are still green, so we’ll persevere and see if they live. All for the purposes of posterity. If they don’t, we’ll head off to Landcare to replace them.
Where I actually want the privacy screening, we can’t plant yet, as it is along the front border of the street in the back yard. We want to put in a fancy fence along the front there, but if we plant lilly pillies there now, they’ll be destroyed when we go to put in the fence.
So there is the conundrum – we want to get these trees in soon so they start growing quickly, but we can’t do it until we can put in the fence, but because we want to do the fence properly, we’ll need to save some dollars to get the materials needed. It’s a 70m stretch, so it’ll take a while, and a good chunk of wallet debris, to get it sorted.
Added to that, we have our doggy in just a small fenced area; we need to get the fence up so she has more space to run, but we don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on dog wire when that could go towards the proper fence.
When we plant a privacy screen (after the fence) we will lay a roll of sugar cane mulch, dig down into the mulch and ground, then plant a random ratio of lilly pillies and bottle brush plants. Bottle brushes attract birds and bees, and combined, create a good, thick screen. We found this out from an extremely helpful worker at Landcare. He even gave us a phone number for the guy who supplies his sugar cane mulch.
This, the juggling act of a new house.
So this one will be updated after winter, to see how those lilly pillies are faring.
Anyone had any luck with rejuvenating lilly pillies at this stage of death?