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Ask RiotACT: Stinky hedge

By MacJanet 28 November 2015 25

hedge

Does anyone else notice that the flowers of this hedge stink? If so, why is there so much of it in Canberra?


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Ask RiotACT: Stinky hedge
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bronal 6:01 pm 05 Dec 15

It’s at the Heritage Nursery Yarralumla the first Saturday of the month from September to May, except January. The next one is on 6 February.

Maya123 11:06 am 05 Dec 15

miz said :

Maya, that makes sense. Where is/was the market?

I have bought plants from various places, but it was likely on market day at the Yarralumla Nursery, when native plant enthusiasts set up stalls. Held in spring and autumn I believe. There’s others that are occasionally held at the Botanical Gardens too.

miz 8:38 am 05 Dec 15

Maya, that makes sense. Where is/was the market?

wildturkeycanoe 6:21 am 05 Dec 15

rubaiyat said :

The problem is the lack of viable alternatives. Even Photinia Rubens is a remarkable step down on grwoth and durability.

I tried natives for over a decade, perpetually nursing them until I lost the lot in the last drought, which is certainly going to repeat itself with a vengeance.

Like many good things, growing a hedge takes considerable investment of time and money, so you are aiming for long term certain results..

It isn’t very difficult to plant a hedge and succeed with native plants. The Australian bush is littered with tea trees which survive remarkably well. Tried walking through a forest of them? It isn’t easy. They flower without making an awful stench, are drought and frost hardy and are easy to maintain. We used them very effectively for a screen, plus also have bottlebrush growing as a hedge as well. Both are great alternatives that are both native and attract some beautiful bird and insect life.
Photinia should be declared a noxious weed and eradicated from Australia with the same gusto as Patterson’s Curse. I suffered sneezing and headaches for many years with hay fever thanks to it’s stinky flowers.

rubaiyat 4:08 pm 04 Dec 15

Maya123 said :

miz said :

I’m so jealous crackerpants, I’ve had trouble getting port wine magnolia to thrive/survive in my garden. Other plants that people claim grow in Canberra (e.g. Hardenbergia) don’t survive winters in my garden either!
I have spent the last 15 years planting good deciduous shade trees to establish a microclimate but it’s still very exposed to severe frost and hot NW winds, being half way up a hill.

I found the Hardenbergia that nurseries sold me couldn’t take the frost and didn’t survive the winter. However, I bought a plant from a market run by local native plant enthusiasts and it did survive. My conclusion is that the commercial plant nurseries are getting their stock from warmer habitats. We need stock that originates from colder areas. I won’t be buying any more Hardenbergia from commercial nurseries. Their stock can’t handle Canberra winters.

Pinch the hardenbergia growing wild all along the side of Hindmarsh Drive.

Couldn’t grow it my garden either. Probably doesn’t like the fertile soil.

crackerpants 2:05 pm 04 Dec 15

Maya123 said :

miz said :

I’m so jealous crackerpants, I’ve had trouble getting port wine magnolia to thrive/survive in my garden. Other plants that people claim grow in Canberra (e.g. Hardenbergia) don’t survive winters in my garden either!
I have spent the last 15 years planting good deciduous shade trees to establish a microclimate but it’s still very exposed to severe frost and hot NW winds, being half way up a hill.

I found the Hardenbergia that nurseries sold me couldn’t take the frost and didn’t survive the winter. However, I bought a plant from a market run by local native plant enthusiasts and it did survive. My conclusion is that the commercial plant nurseries are getting their stock from warmer habitats. We need stock that originates from colder areas. I won’t be buying any more Hardenbergia from commercial nurseries. Their stock can’t handle Canberra winters.

Good old Canberra – one climate, 28,000 microclimates!! And then there’s the soil. We had our gardens hugely overhauled a few years ago – when we bought our place the garden was very sad and tired, and the soil was like ash. Our port wine magnolias are on the eastern side of the house, in dappled shade for part of the day (summer), and in good soil with lots of organic mulch. I have no idea if that’s why they’re doing well – but our neighbours have a massive one with the same aspect that’s obviously been thriving there for a very long time. Our initial large plantings at the time of the overhaul were recommended by our landscape architect.

Maya123 I’m lucky to have inherited my parents’ cynicism regarding commercial nurseries and their stock, which is often shipped up from the coast. For any plantings I’m unsure of, I always go to the nursery at Yarralumla – they usually steer me the right way. I’m also a massive stickybeak when it comes to other people’s gardens. Any time I go for a walk or run I look at what’s growing well in my suburb.

Maya123 10:09 am 04 Dec 15

miz said :

I’m so jealous crackerpants, I’ve had trouble getting port wine magnolia to thrive/survive in my garden. Other plants that people claim grow in Canberra (e.g. Hardenbergia) don’t survive winters in my garden either!
I have spent the last 15 years planting good deciduous shade trees to establish a microclimate but it’s still very exposed to severe frost and hot NW winds, being half way up a hill.

I found the Hardenbergia that nurseries sold me couldn’t take the frost and didn’t survive the winter. However, I bought a plant from a market run by local native plant enthusiasts and it did survive. My conclusion is that the commercial plant nurseries are getting their stock from warmer habitats. We need stock that originates from colder areas. I won’t be buying any more Hardenbergia from commercial nurseries. Their stock can’t handle Canberra winters.

miz 7:13 am 04 Dec 15

I’m so jealous crackerpants, I’ve had trouble getting port wine magnolia to thrive/survive in my garden. Other plants that people claim grow in Canberra (e.g. Hardenbergia) don’t survive winters in my garden either!
I have spent the last 15 years planting good deciduous shade trees to establish a microclimate but it’s still very exposed to severe frost and hot NW winds, being half way up a hill.

Wherearetherealliberals 8:40 pm 03 Dec 15

Definitely photinia. I rather like them. They’re popular because they’re as tough as old boots and do a fabulous screening job.

tonyb 4:32 pm 03 Dec 15

What a great discussion starter. Thanks janet. Though I must say I’ve never really noticed any stink

crackerpants 10:44 am 03 Dec 15

IMO rubens is much stinkier than robusta, but robusta is often overpowering through size of the plants and sheer volume of frothy white flowers. The bees love them, but the flies love them more – in fact that’s where I hang my fly traps. We have a couple of very large ones out the back which are roughly as old as the house (45+ years) – they formed a fantastic screen for privacy and shade until Actew changed their rules and we had to remove two from either side of a power pole. 5 years later I’m still smarting from that.

We have a hedge of Portugal laurel (not related to Bay laurel but similar foliage) which is wonderfully green, bushy, does well on little water, and in 4 years is shoulder height. Our Port wine magnolia hedge (Michelia figo) is slow growing, at about hip height in 4 years. But I’m willing to be patient because it is beautiful with lighter leaves and the most amazing flowers that smell like bananas and spices (or port wine, hence the name).

rubaiyat 9:10 pm 02 Dec 15

Want a sweet smelling hedge, plant Bay Laurels!

Saw beautiful Laurel hedges in the Yarra Valley vineyards. The smell was divine!

Never seen anyone try it here in Canberra so don’t know what problems there might be, other than needing initial protection from frost, but my Bay Laurel round the back goes gang busters and throws up masses of suckers.

miz 8:36 pm 02 Dec 15

Yes many natives struggle to survive here, and when they do they often look straggly and woody and are short lived – none of which are ideal for a hedge.
As mentioned in another post my preference for a Canberra hedge is viburnum tinus (Laurustinus) – can also grow large if you let it, and is slower growing than photinia, but copes with sun, shade, frost, drought and general neglect and makes a good, dense, dark green hedge. Gets pretty flowers in spring that do NOT smell but attract bees.

rubaiyat 5:21 pm 02 Dec 15

Nilrem said :

rubaiyat said :

bigred said :

Photinia robusta in the yard should be accompanied by a good chainsaw in the shed. I would suggest to anyone contemplating planting this piece of flora to change their mind.

The problem is the lack of viable alternatives. Even Photinia Rubens is a remarkable step down on grwoth and durability.

I tried natives for over a decade, perpetually nursing them until I lost the lot in the last drought, which is certainly going to repeat itself with a vengeance.

Like many good things, growing a hedge takes considerable investment of time and money, so you are aiming for long term certain results.

Photinia Robusta certainly delivers on that, but requires the recommended constant trimming to keep it in line. Neglecting that will let it go to its natural state of a reasonably large woody tree.

One of the various Pittosporum varieties that are very popular. We have ‘Green Pillar’ and its created a nice two-metre hedge in about three years. Doesn’t need much water when established. Comes from New Zealand, which might slightly appease the anti-exotic plant zealots? 🙂

Yes I know of those. Some houses around here have them but they can be “gappy” and are softer, you can “wade” through them, seems Photinia Robusta is still the surer bet and once grown is a real physical barrier.

I like the smaller leaf of the Pittosporum. I thought I’d try the smaller leaf Photinia Rubens but it has barely advanced in the years I had it in. My second shot with the Photinia Robusta between the Rubens has already overtaken the original planting.

Canberra is a tough climate. Talk to some of the older neighbours, they have experience. Mine advised against my first choice of the native Westringia and was right. Did my dough and wasted a decade.

Nilrem 2:39 pm 02 Dec 15

rubaiyat said :

bigred said :

Photinia robusta in the yard should be accompanied by a good chainsaw in the shed. I would suggest to anyone contemplating planting this piece of flora to change their mind.

The problem is the lack of viable alternatives. Even Photinia Rubens is a remarkable step down on grwoth and durability.

I tried natives for over a decade, perpetually nursing them until I lost the lot in the last drought, which is certainly going to repeat itself with a vengeance.

Like many good things, growing a hedge takes considerable investment of time and money, so you are aiming for long term certain results.

Photinia Robusta certainly delivers on that, but requires the recommended constant trimming to keep it in line. Neglecting that will let it go to its natural state of a reasonably large woody tree.

One of the various Pittosporum varieties that are very popular. We have ‘Green Pillar’ and its created a nice two-metre hedge in about three years. Doesn’t need much water when established. Comes from New Zealand, which might slightly appease the anti-exotic plant zealots? 🙂

rubaiyat 9:54 am 02 Dec 15

bigred said :

Photinia robusta in the yard should be accompanied by a good chainsaw in the shed. I would suggest to anyone contemplating planting this piece of flora to change their mind.

The problem is the lack of viable alternatives. Even Photinia Rubens is a remarkable step down on grwoth and durability.

I tried natives for over a decade, perpetually nursing them until I lost the lot in the last drought, which is certainly going to repeat itself with a vengeance.

Like many good things, growing a hedge takes considerable investment of time and money, so you are aiming for long term certain results.

Photinia Robusta certainly delivers on that, but requires the recommended constant trimming to keep it in line. Neglecting that will let it go to its natural state of a reasonably large woody tree.

bigred 9:02 pm 01 Dec 15

Photinia robusta in the yard should be accompanied by a good chainsaw in the shed. I would suggest to anyone contemplating planting this piece of flora to change their mind.

old canberran 6:07 pm 01 Dec 15

One of the reasons there is so much of it is the fact that it was one of the plants issued free from the Yarralumla nursery to new householders up until the 70’s. Most government houses built pre 1950 had photinia hedges presumably also from the nursery. I guess they used photinia because it grew quite quickly as a hedge, required little water and looked good. We lived in Torrens Street and just about every house had the same hedge but strangely I can’t remember it smelling when in flower and we had it along the front and down the side of our corner block.

miz 5:49 pm 30 Nov 15

Clipping it prevents the stinky flowers from developing and stops it getting out of control (they can get huge and be costly to get cut back at that stage).

shellcase 2:41 pm 30 Nov 15

Only occurs in spring, all to do with the flowers and the trees and the birds and the bees ….

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