Thursday, March 19, 2009

Golden Hollywood

a green fire-screen?
Auranticarpa rhombifolia (Pittosporum rhombifolium)
These little trees are looking magnificent all over town at the moment. As one of the few local natives that have been planted as street trees in Toowoomba, they justify the faith of those who made the decision.
Street trees have a very tough life, so anything that can look good in those circumstances is definitely a winner as a garden plant.
Hollywoods are fast-growing trees with a tall, narrow growth habit. While they can be grown as nice little shade trees, their dense, dark green foliage reaches almost to ground level if they are left untrimmed, making them wonderful tall screens for a space only a 3-4 metres wide.
For a good privacy screen, plant at 2m apart for a good screen, and tip-prune when young for extra bushiness.)
Their roots will seek out water, so they should be kept well away from underground pipes.
They flower profusely in spring, attracting insects of all kinds (and the nesting birds, no matter what their normal diet, make use of the extra protein that this insect feast provides, at this busy time).
The bright fruits ripen after Christmas, and can last right through till next spring, opening to reveal the black fruits which birds also love.
They are drought resistant and hardy to light frosts. Their favourite soils are the red and black basalt soils.
And will they save your house from burning down?
Well, perhaps not in a fire such as we’ve seen recently in Victoria - so don’t stay at home when you ought to be evacuating!
However, they are hard to set alight, and do make a good spark-catching screen, so would be a very good choice of plant in a fire-prone area. They are certainly a much better plant, all round, than the highly flammable introduced cypresses, which are popular as screens in this district.

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