Saturday, April 16, 2011

Native Germander

Teucrium argutum
Family: LAMIACEAE
This little member of the mint family is a perfect Australian native cottage garden plant.
Traditional English cottage gardens contained a mixture of vegetables, herbs, flowering annuals and “herbaceous perennials”.
“Herbaceous” means that they appear to die at the end of summer, but the roots remain alive and well, ready to put up new growth in spring. As time went by, the perennials have become the mainstay of this ornamental gardening style, and maintenance of a typical cottage garden involves a tidy-up in autumn, where dead material is cut away, and roots divided and excess bits discarded (or given to friends).



Despite its family connections, which are apparent in the leaf and flower shapes, and in the square stems, our native germander does not have aromatic leaves. Its flowers are somewhat showier than those of the garlic-scented European germander Teucrium chamaedrys, a cottage garden favourite in northern hemisphere countries.




Like that plant, it could be used for edging, or decorative effects such as knot gardens.
It also looks good in bush-style gardens, creeping around among shrubs, between rushes and grasses. Its roots help with slope maintenance.
As with all our local natives, it is somewhat drought hardy, though it does appreciate
some moisture in its root zone, especially if grown in full sun. For this reason, it thrives best if mulched.
The little flowers attract butterflies and other insects.

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