Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Our wattle does its thing

This is our best-ever case of something not going to plan – not remotely – yet everything working out quite splendidly in the end. 

Our "groundcover" wattle is in bloom again (just like we planned it), right on time in Sydney's sunny midwinter (just like we planned it). So what didn't go to plan? 

Wait till you see the size of this thing! It is most definitely not a groundcover, hugging the ground humbly like it's a living mat. No, this is a triumphant invader of spaces, accoster of innocent pedestrians passing by, a fence-climber and, admittedly, a rather lovely big monster of a thing. Here it is in flower this morning.

The rarely seen front of our house, with the giant groundcover
scaling the front fence, bearing streamers of yellow blossoms.

Seen from the front porch it covers the whole front garden,
rising to the same height as the fence and surround hedges,
a sea of lacy, delicate blue-green foliage throughout the
year, and now, in July and August, the blue sea is foamy with
streaks and bubbles of yellow blossom.
Like the foliage, the blossoms are also delicate things, fine
puffballs aplenty, always fuzzy to look at until you're just
an inch or two away.

We don't get as many flowers as we had
initially planned on, simply because the house
is to the north of the wattle, and while it
does get kissed by sunlight through the winter's
day, it's not a whole day of sunlight, and so
the plant doesn't produce a full canopy of blooms.

The innocent vision we had when we planted this lovely thing more than 10 years ago was that it would be a ground-hugging groundcover that was a sparkling sea of yellow through winter. This is what the brochure promised!

Instead, we have a huge plant which scooted along the ground until it came to the first obstacle (hedge or fence) then simply reared up and over the obstacle, hell bent on world domination. Everywhere, it's somewhere between waist and head high. That ain't no groundcover!

Over these last 10 years I have clipped it back from the front fence a zillion times, to stop it dripping and drooping over passers-by on the footpath (and it can be a pain that way during wet weather).

It's a "love it or hate it" plant. One mystery neighbour breaks bits off the wattle as he or she walks by, always leaving them on the nature strip in a silent, wattle-hating protest. 

Other neighbours stop to talk to me about it, and to pat and stroke the foliage as if it was a giant sleeping dog. It is certainly soft to the touch.

It is its own plant, its own personality. Apart from clipping back the overgrowth, I do nothing to care for it. Never feed it, never water it. All I do is admire it.

Pammy says that this year it is looking as nice as it ever has, and I agree.


Padaek said...

Such a wonderful plant animal! We have a tree form of this, and although it's only a few years old, it's already several meters high. Potted, with humble leaves and no blooms yet, we look forward to decorating it for Christmas. We recently saw a stunning wattle shrub full of golden flowers, but zero leaves, only thin green stems. They're pretty special plants!

Jem @ Lost in Utensils said...

I would say this is 'vertical and horizontal cover' for sure Jamie lol.

Anonymous said...

Such a lovely plant, the wattles are just starting to come into bloom here in the Blue Mountains as well...it's such a lovely signal to the end of winter.
But it's always a shame when nursery tags are misleading. I know the industry has done a lot in the last decade, but it reminds me of the 'dwarf' conifers popular so many years ago that now tower over the houses they were planted next to :-)

Jamie said...

Jem, it's defintely a vertical cover, I'm sure if our front fence was 10 feet high it'd climb it!

Matt, the misleading label even caught out the nursery which I originally bought the wattle from (Sydney Wildflower Nursery at Heathcote, which is excellent). They planted one of these groundcover wattles next to their car park, and one customer ran over the wattle with their car, after which it immediately started to grow upwards rather than along the ground. Moral of the story is don't annoy this wattle - at your peril.

Lanie at Edible Urban Garden said...


Diana Studer said...

for a groundcover that's rather terrifying.
Pretty tho.

Amy Crumbs said...

I love Acacia baileyana, and yours is exceptional. I have just planted A. baileyana 'Purpurea', and hope it does better than the prostrate form I tried a couple of years ago, which lasted all of a few weeks before kicking the bucket.