New England gardening: Wattle is the golden herald of spring

Acacia neriifolia: The oleander wattle foliage is long, narrow and blue-green in colour.
Acacia neriifolia: The oleander wattle foliage is long, narrow and blue-green in colour.

Spring has arrived and although there is a severe drought, the wattles are managing to put on their usual colourful, brave show.

Australia is home to a diverse range of wattles or acacias with nearly 1000 species spread throughout the continent. There are more wattles native to Australia than any other group of plants with new species being discovered and named with monotonous regularity.

With great diversity in growth habit, foliage shape and colour plus colourful flowers there is a wattle for every horticultural situation.

Remember that not all wattles burst into bloom on Wattle Day, September 1. With careful selection of species, wattle flowers will grace your garden from late winter to early summer with a few providing colour during the rest of the year.

To keep your wattles in tip-top condition they should be pruned as the flowers fade. Cut off each branch behind the spent blooms. This will prolong their lives and provide an abundance of blooms next season.

Over 60 wattle species call the Northern Tablelands home. This time we will describe some local acacias that take kindly to life in the garden.

Over 60 wattle species call the Northern Tablelands home.

Acacia flexifolia, the bent-leaf wattle, is found along Thunderbolts Way near Abington. This is a population of plants that only reach a height of 1m or less. Usually the bent-leaf wattle develops into a medium-sized shrub. The Thunderbolts Way form would be an ideal addition to rockeries and native cottage gardens.

All forms have leaves with a slight bend in them (hence the common name). The lemon-yellow flowers cover the plants from late winter to early spring. Because the wattle blooms so early we call it “a herald of spring”.

Acacia neriifolia, the oleander wattle, grows into a tall shrub or small tree. The foliage is long, narrow and blue-green in colour. The common name refers to the foliage shape not to any poisonous qualities.

The bright yellow flowers are held in globular clusters and appear profusely in early spring. The flowers are complemented by the foliage.

After roadworks on the Bundarra Road, near Tea Tree Creek, the Oleander Wattle regenerated in large numbers and now lines both sides of the road. Even when not in flower plants provide a colourful display with their blue-green foliage.

Acacia diphylla is a medium-sized tree with a pyramid-shaped growth habit. The large leathery leaves are a dull green. Golden-yellow flowers are carried in rod-shaped clusters with two clusters at the base of each leaf. This species begins flowering in October and continues until late November. This is one wattle that maintains its shape without pruning.

Acacia diphylla is found along and in the gorge country, east of Armidale. There is also a population near Gloucester, on Thunderbolts Way.

This graceful wattle could be used as an avenue tree lining the entrance to a rural property.

These are just a few local wattles that will bring colour to your garden in spring. We will return to the wattle story in the future.

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