Tuesday, 3 March 2020

Firewheel Tree and What Next After Fire


Stenocarpus sinuatus: Firewheel tree

At this time of year (late summer in Australia), there’s a spectacular tree in some parks and gardens that is full of the native birdlife because they’re after the nectar laden bright red flowers.
One of my favourite trees. The flowers are just magnificent and so unusual.
Like the spokes of a wheel, they inspired the logo for my radio show.
Stenocarpus sinuatus : firewheel tree
A beautiful tree that is often overlooked for gardens but maybe you should grow it.
I'm talking with Adrian O”Malley, horticulturist and native plant expert.

The tree is laden with nectar and as usual, the crazy parrots, such as lorikeets, go for the flowers, screeching their delightful tune as they take a sip.
Sometimes, the nectar ferments in the hot sun making the birds a little more jolly.
Ring tail possums like to chew on the new leaves during the warm months.
The leaves are quite large, up to 20cm in length and they are quite leathery.
The green, lobed leaves are similar to those of maple trees, featuring five main veins which are yellowish-green and prominent on the underside of the leaf. One of this tree’s most outstanding features is its distinct autumn foliage – a highlight of the autumn season, so people reckon, but not so much in my garden.
My tree has profuse bright red and orange flowers creating a spectacular display from summer to autumn. Shaped like the spokes of a wheel before they open, these symmetrical blossoms may be up to 10 cm in diameter and are highly attractive, especially to birds.
The leaves are not great for composting, in fact it would take years, so best to put them in the green bin.
Adrian says that you can grow this tree in a pot for some years, but make it a large pot.
When the leaves start dropping you might need to think about putting in the garden or shifting it to an even larger pot. 
You can also root prune the tree and keep it in the same pot.
Worth having.
If you have any questions either for me or for Adrian, why not write in to


What Next After Fire?

This series is about the task of assessing and rebuilding a garden after a fire event.
There may be burnt trees and shrubs on your property, but can you just get out the chainsaw, axe or other pruning tools and chop them down?
Yep, burnt ground and trees after fire
Should you seek advice first?

Let’s find out.
That was Wayne van Balen, immediate past president of the Institute of Horticulture and Manager of the registered horticulturist program.
A fire event is not open slather to remove trees and shrubs from your property unless there’s a risk of person or property damage.
Assessment has to be done first.

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