Category Archives: Local Flora and Fauna

Geraldton Wax

Geraldton Wax is a flowering shrub with white or pink flowers that comes from Western Australia. It is very similar to Tea Tree and the flowers last a long time, making it very popular in the cut flower trade.

This plant is supposed to be frost tender – the temperatures go down to -6C here. Without any care over the last 3 years, it has survived and this is the 2012 flowering – absolutely magnificent (well, in my opinion). There aren’t many local shrubs that can match it. It loves sandy soil in moderate to full sun, and will withstand dry periods, making it perfect for growing in my local climate. It is short-lived in high humidity areas, like along the east coast of Australia.

Geraldton Wax Flowering 2012
Geraldton Wax Flowering 2012
native bee coming in for nectar on Geraldton Wax flower
Native bee coming in for nectar

Many of my neighbours have tried growing these without success. Their properties are lower down, and receive heavier, longer frosts that I do.

Next year, I intend to plant many more these to provide extra food for the insects and birds. Since moving to this place, our plantings of calistemons  and grevilleas has increased the bird population as well as our local native stingless bees, as they now have food when the local natives are not flowering. We are surrounded by native forest, so all we are doing is supplementing their diets.

My Gardening

When we first moved to this property, I tried to garden using traditional methods i.e. growing plants in soil. Not very successful. I could not keep water up to the plants. The annual rainfall here is 600mm, but we have 2.5m annual evaporation, so their is a large water deficiency.

I then tried raised garden beds with building plastic underneath to try and stop the tree roots stealing the water. Much better production, but after a couple of years, the roots worked their way into the beds.

I tried growing in containers, but that meant watering at least once per day. I tried hydroponics, but was not happy dumping the water every so often due to the build up of salts and minerals. Aquaculture did not produce the food we needed, and obtaining a licence is an expensive exercise.

While working in Alice Springs, we stayed on a property where the owner had made use of old bath tubs and a lined garden pond to create an aquaponics system. He had about 200 silver perch fingerlings in the pond and an old spa bath, with about 20 old bath tubs. The production of vegetables was amazing.

I started reading and learning all I could about this system of plant production, as I thought that it might solve many of the issues that I have here. We are on a similar latitude to Alice Springs, and have a similar climate, with frosts over winter and hot days during summer, and raining whenever it happens (no real set pattern).