Fruit Trees

September Flowers


Our one month of Spring is already half way done.  Hot weather could be around the corner but so far we have been blessed with some rain to start the growing off and, of course, we hope for more.  In the bush, native plants are flowering: clematis vine, orchids; and the fireflies are lighting up the twilight in such numbers this year. I do miss the scent of the native Scrub Turpentine, which rarely flowers any more due to its susceptibility to the scourge of Myrtle Rust. 


And when I head into the garden there are flowers galore too. Citrus trees are covered in blossom and the scent is heady, petals rain down constantly and bees buzz loudly. Macadamia blossoms hang and compete well for attention above the clamour of the citrus blossom scent.  Pomegranate, Jaboticaba, and Lychee are all showing the promise that flowering fruit trees give. Mango, Jakfruit and some varieties of Avocado too. Early low-chill  or ‘Southern Highbush’ blueberries are well on the way to setting their first fruit, as well as low-chill stonefruit and mulberries


Well, mulberries… they are well on their way into bowls and recipes and tummies already. This fruit  has to be eaten fresh from the tree. The fruit is soft and juicy and easy to bruise so you’ll never find this in a supermarket. This means it's the perfect tree for your backyard. I remember times spent gorging on this fruit as a kid, eating and spreading the magenta stains all over hands, face and clothes. Today’s varieties are cutting grown or grafted females, all  clones with fantastic eating qualities and being only female, they won’t set seed to be spread throughout the bush. For our area, the Dwarf Black and the Dwarf Red Shahtoot Mulberries are great for small backyards, with flavourful berries. The Shahtoot, a long thin fruit,  has more of an aromatic flavour to it too, and is very sweet. These trees are well suited to throwing a net over to prevent the birds making off with them. Mulberries can be beautiful large shade trees as well . This includes the White Shahtoot mulberry -  it is delicious, and a large spreading shade tree for big backyards. 


Flowers can be enjoyed for eating and cooking too. Nasturtium and violas can be added to salads, banksia and macadamia flowers can be used to flavour drinks. And orange blossom can be used to make a scented water used in baking, much like rose water. The flowers of the Seville orange are traditionally used but any orange variety will do, really. Obviously, don’t pick too many or you’ll limit how many oranges you’ll have next winter.  The orange blossom water can be distilled even without fancy equipment, but there is a simple method you can use, it just won’t keep as long.


Pick the flowers in the morning before the sun has dried them out.  Pick off any insects or dirt, or browned flowers you can see, you can  then put them in a colander to rinse them under the tap. Crush the orange blossoms in a mortar and pestle until they are a paste. For the next step you will need distilled water. Put the petal paste in a glass jar and cover with distilled water. Let this sit for a couple of weeks and then strain through a cloth. Keep your orange blossom water in the fridge.


 I'm walking through country burnt in last summer's fires. Different areas are affected in different ways, with some having had relatively cool burns and others that burnt quite hot. Where eucalypts were burnt right to the crown of the tree, they are sprouting bunchy  epicormic growth all along their branches. In these areas, small trees are killed outright, so what's called the midstorey is gone, these can be wattles, leptospermum and young casuarinas and an array of other species. But everywhere, everything is pushing forth new growth. There is an extraordinary abundance of grass trees in flower and all sorts of flowering shrubs - boronia, broom, hovea, and ground orchids too. We tend to think of this rebirth as some sort of Australian exceptionalism, but really every ecosystem around the world will do this in its own way. The only other outcome is desertification.

Desertification proceeds apace around this country. In areas of high rainfall like Kyogle Shire, the degradation that has occurred with land clearing and overgrazing is often masked, but with a keen eye, you can spot the bunchy epicormic growth of gum trees under great stress, or the erosion on hillsides causing a terraced effect. Creeks and rivers become muddy with rain and weed species like lantana, camphor laurel and privet predominate. Bare earth rings  alarm bells to those who see. And remember, this is not just a world of plants, native wildlife seek to live here too. Even in urban backyards, we can see these processes happening. And we can choose to be a part of this regeneration if we want.

Of course, every backyard should have a fruit tree or three in it, but we can also plant habitat for wildlife. Tufty grasses make great homes for skinks to live under and fairy wrens to nest in. Provide a log feature for bigger skinks to live in. Spiky shrubs, like fingerlimes can be great for slightly bigger birds' nests to protect them from the crows. Bottlebrush and grevillea will feed the raucous honeyeaters, but remember the little ones too. A smaller hidden-in-the-shrubs bird waterer is good for  these fellas in summer, so they can drink in peace. And remember, if you don't lock up your pet cat, you will never see the wrens, finches and robins nest in your yard. 

Further afield, grass, shrubs and  trees play the same role on a large scale. Tufty grasses are loved by bandicoots for shelter, the little piglets of the bush,  turning over soil to find grubs and roots. And small pademelons or wallabies will sleep amongst them in the day too. Fallen timber can be a fire hazard but it's important to leave something for small creatures to shelter in. Skinks like the black land mullet and native rats too,  appreciate their cover. Shrubs provide shade, shelter and food for an array of species. Old trees are needed to provide the hollows that so many of our mammals, owls and parrots need to nest in. And all plants shed leaves, bark and twigs to cover the earth, providing habitat for small invertebrates that recycle all of it back into the soil. 

Rich river flats are at their most beautiful, in my opinion, when they are dotted with forest redgum. This species is loved by koalas, but if the tree is under stress it can be less than tasty for them and they do need choices in their diet. Our older Richmond river flat redgum do need young recruits planted to replace them as they age,  if you are seeing epicormic growth on them it is a sure sign of this. Think about planting other species too that koalas love, like tallowood and grey gum. Keep in mind, to connect planting areas to each other, as animals need hectares available to them to find everything they need throughout the year. For a full list of suitable trees for koalas, this is a great site and has a listing based on shire areas for the best species to plant around the country

So now is a great time to plant something to provide shade and shelter for your garden wildlife for the summer to come. And also for the wildlife and plant communities eking out an existence, within and beyond our fences, for the decades to come.

Magical Compost


Bins, piles, bays, mounds, heaps..all the places we make and do compost. We bring our scraps, garden waste, manures and grasses together and make something special. If we don’t produce enough on our own- we can buy it in bags, trailer or truck loads. Someone, somewhere is always making compost.

Even birds can do this. Recent research has shown that the Superb Lyrebird scratches and moves up to 11 tip trucks’ worth of litter and soil a year, more than any animal on the planet. That’s 155 tonnes per hectare! As they search for food, they turn over leaf litter and soil, shifting it downhill, helping it to break down and feed the forests they live in. That’s a busy bird. Locally, the scrub turkey makes itself unpopular with its mounding of  backyard  litter and scratching up of people’s garden beds for their nests. Now that’s an enthusiastic composter.

I have good intention and healthy enthusiasm towards my own compost making abilities. It’s a proud moment when you have a moist chocolate brown earthy brew emanating a sweet earthy scent. After turning, and waiting patiently the pile is done and you can set to using it in the garden freely and abundantly.

I’ve never met a plant who didn’t like to get dressed up with a bit of compost. It’s the perfect accessory for poor and tired soils. It pretty much goes with everything in the garden and if you don’t have it- you should really get it. At our retail nursery store we are now happily stocking 20L bags of compost from a local producer 'Living Farm Australia'.

I myself have the classic black plastic bin- in go the greens, in go the browns then mix it all up and pop the lid back on till next time. I build it high and as it all breaks down a concentrated mix develops full of nutrients, micro organisms and organic goodness.

Another approach is to compost in situ. Prune your garden and create layers of leaves, twigs, branches, spent vegetable matter and any other natural material you have lying around. The smaller the  pieces, the faster it will break down and the quicker you will build up soil in that area. This method will also act as a mulch to protect the earth from hot drying suns and heavy rains that can wash bare soil away. It will provide habitat for insects and small critters and worms, which will take to the spot with great delight. The depth of layers will also help to create more humidity close to the ground, in turn helping plants to battle through those hot summer days where the moisture can literally be sucked right out of them. Save a trip to the tip or the burn pile and use the waste right where it is- joining in the cycle of life.


Note:  At Daley’s we’ve changed the way we run our local shop in Geneva. If you’d like to buy plants, please order and pay at and give us a day to prepare your order. We will send you an email once it is ready for collection. We also have a few plants that are too tall to send as mail order that are discounted and, of course, our bargain bin is where you can pick up some handy ideas for your coming harvest. We are open Tuesday to Friday 9am to 3pm. Closed Saturday, Sunday, Monday and public holidays. 36 Daley's Lane, Geneva.