Eucalyptus Summer Red grows to about five metres in height and flowers profusely through summer and early autumn.
Eucalyptus Summer Red grows to about five metres in height and flowers profusely through summer and early autumn. Photo Contributed

Here's how to create a little shady spot in your garden

EVEN a small garden can benefit from a little shade as summer creeps into autumn with no respite from the heat.

Finding a shade tree for a small garden can be a bit tricky, as most trees are just too big. But one really great option is the grafted flowering gums.

Summer Red and Summer Beauty have been on the market now for several years and they have proven themselves to be hardy, easy to grow, and spectacular when in flower. They can grow to about 5m in height, and flower profusely and from an early age through summer and early autumn.

Individual flowers up to 5cm across are massed in terminal clusters over the whole tree. Summer Red is deep red, and Summer Beauty is a soft pink. All the flowers have gold tips and golden centres. After the flowers come the lovely, quintessentially Aussie gumnuts. The new growth, particularly in winter and spring, is a striking red colour which makes the trees a feature even while not in flower.

Wildfire gets a bit bigger, growing to about 6m with a rounded crown of dense foliage. It makes an excellent specimen tree, bearing a profusion of vibrant red flowers in summer and autumn.

Newer varieties include Mini Red, which is more a shrub than a tree, growing only about 2.5m tall by 2m wide. The large, showy, fire engine red blooms appear throughout summer and sometimes again in autumn.

The abundant nectar in the flowers of these gums makes them very attractive to birds and bees. The trees are very hardy, and are drought and frost tolerant once established. They like a sunny, well-drained position, and can also be grown in a large pot. They don't like to be waterlogged, but they also don't like to dry out.

Prune after flowering to encourage dense, bushy growth and lots of shoots that will bear flowers in the following season.

So why are these grafted trees so popular? Well, flowering gums that are grown from seed can take from four to seven years to flower, but grafted flowering gums will usually flower within the first 18 months. The specially selected rootstock ensures the plants will be viable in a wide range of soil types, and improves disease resistance.

As with all grafted plants, it is important to remove any growth that occurs below the graft union.

Got a gardening question? Email maree@edenatbyron.com.au or visit http://www.edenatbyron.com.au



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