Raise your hand: How many of us know that the Australian national colours come from the national tree? That tree is, of course, is known as the Wattle. From our horticulturist friend, we learned that these trees were called Wattles as “they were believed to have been used by the early Australian settlers to make wattle and daub houses.” A fine distinction, indeed: Shelter for the ancestors.
The Wattle is like a mysterious woman… you never know how she will appear the next time you see her. This species expresses itself in over 500 ways all over Australia and springs up from small shrubs to tall trees.
With one fascinating exception: They are, at base, evergreens with yellow flowers whose shades move from a pale grapefruit yellow to a colour that easily competes with a Mustang.
Their foliage can be daintily feathery, uncompromisingly flat or mimicing piney needles. What a dresser! Between the range of flower colours and foliage varieties, the Wattle must be the envy of all the other trees that live in the AU. So Australians are lucky that way—a tree with a wardrobe!
Then there’s the fragrance – a mimosa, delicate candy-like scent. When it blooms, one tastes the breeze. For sensitive noses, they may arouse a reaction similar to allergic symptoms, but fear not. The Wattle doesn’t have the right ingredients to claim that right. In fact, some Wattle species are grown to make perfume… No surprise there.
As difficult as it is to accept, they are extremely fast growing and their life span is short. And what a glorious life they do have, spreading sunshine all over the place.
Landscaping the Wattle
Despite its short life span, it has its uses as a showpiece. And since it’s a fast grower, it is quickly replenished. Being a hardy individual, and the national tree, it deserves a prominent display in places where people gather.
In a park or garden setting (Take Centennial Park in Sydney, for example), it would be great to show a number of different Wattle species growing in different plots (think “crop rotation”) to keep a certain amount of representation of this tree going at all times. People would show up every once in a while to discover a new species. Mobile phones would be buzzing with the news… That might be stretching it a bit but it’s worth the thought!
The Column Garden could use some color and some patriotism in the form of the national tree and shrub. The Wattles settle in nicely amongst the other trees and would look wonderful near the pond. With all the benches around the water, it would be so lovely for people to sit and enjoy the beauty and fragrance of our national tree.