Kershaw’s summer gems

Kershaw Gardens' waterfall is the perfect spot to spend a quiet hour or two.

It is only weeks to when Summer is with us and that is matched with the warm weather. Many would say it is too hot for gardening or visiting a garden.

But that could not be further from the truth. For me one of my favourite gardens to walk through is Kershaw Gardens.

In many ways Rockhampton’s Kershaw Garden is a hidden gem for spending a quiet hour or two. Opened as Rockhampton’s second botanic garden Kershaw Gardens became one of the first Australian Native Plant gardens in the country.

Kershaw Gardens covers a one kilometre long section of the Bruce Highway and provides a variety of attractions from a family friendly Central Precinct with modern playground facilities, BBQ areas and the Stuart Fragrant Garden located beside the Knight Street carpark.

The Northern Precinct that can be accessed directly from High Street has several walkway directions all of which have great plant displays, a waterfall with seating and has a carpark as well.

Then there is the Southern Precinct with granite paths meandering though established trees and flowering Native Shrubs. This Precinct was badly damaged during Cyclone Marcia and some areas are still closed to the public. The Southern Precinct can be accessed directly from Dowling Street where there is a carpark as well.

This week I decided to walk the tracks of Kershaw Gardens. Yes it is not Summer yet but close. I was amazed at the number of different plants in full bloom. Many of the plants were even flowering out of season.

Backhousia citriodora or Lemon Scented Myrtle is a bushy small tree with lemon scented foliage and clusters of creamy white flowers in summer. It is ideal for wind or visual breaks and will grow on most soil types. The Backhousia is a native to the Mount Archer area and is one of the most popular bush foods in Queensland.

Barklya syringifolia or Bajool Rose is one of the most spectacular flowering Central Queensland plants. Long golden brush-flowers, up to 20cm long, will form in mass over the tree during Spring and summer, and will attract many honey-eaters. This small, slow-growing tree with glossy, deep-green, bat-shaped leaves will tolerate sun or shade in moist, well-drained positions.    

Dillenia alata or Red Beech is a tall canopy tree, which can be found naturally from North Queensland through to Malaysia, will provide a unique display of golden yellow flowers up to 6cm in length all through the year.

There are a number of attractive specimens growing in our region that seem to have a more dominant flowering time during spring than those found growing in North Queensland.

Evodiella muelleri or Little Euodia is not well known by local gardeners but those who have one growing always boast about the attractive flowers. It is a small shrub growing to around 2m high and prefers moist, well-drained sunny situations. Evodiella produces clusters of pink and white flowers along the branches in spring followed by large green capsules.

Goodenia ovata or Prostrate Hop is a fast growing hardy groundcover with bright green, fleshy leaves, spreading to approximately 1.5m across. Masses of showy bright yellow flowers occur most of the year. Goodenia is frost resistant and is a very useful understorey plant for established gardens.

Grevillea baileyana or White Oak makes a stunning display in a slight breeze with its foliage dark green on one side and the undersides of leaves that glisten gold. Grevillea baileyana forms a bushy tree to 8m high, for moist well-drained soils. This hardy and fast growing tree has masses of white, highly scented flowers in summer.

Scaevola albida or Fairy Fan Flower is a compact suckering groundcover for most soil types, as long as it isn’t too boggy. Masses of blue-to-mauve fan-shaped flowers will appear throughout the year. I have seen a specimen in a garden in Moura that could only be described as a mauve carpet, so heavy were the blooms. The Fairy Fan Flower is one of those native plants immortalised by May Gibbs classic of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie

Westringea Morning Light is a variegated form of the common Native Rosemary. The tightly crowded leaves of the Westringea Morning Light have a cream colored variegation along the edges.

Growing to 50cm high and 1m across and makes an ideal small hedge. White flowers will appear in abundance several times a year. It is a hardy shrub for inland or coastal situations and is tolerant of salt spray.

If you find some of these plants of interest for your garden, why not visit a local nursery.

While many of these plants may not be available all year round in most local nurseries, they should be able to be ordered from specialist nurseries for this garden.