The genera Lomandra is in the same family as the Australian grass trees (Xanthorrhoeaceae) but without the tree bit. They form tufts or tussocks and most have a long flat ‘blade ‘for a leaf.
All support flowers on spikes and many are scented, some pleasantly, some not so pleasantly. More and more are coming into cultivation and look fantastic in large groups. The best trait for the gardener is that they almost all tolerate such a wide range of conditions from sandy soils to clay, wet to very dry, frost and shade to full sun.
If the clumps ever look untidy, the whole plant can be cut off at ground level or burnt and then new fresh growth will sprout forth.
Lomandra longifolia with its fairly broad leaf seems to take whatever you want to dish up. Growing to 1m high and will progressively wider but without been aggressive. Its mildly scented flowers will waft about and looks good in straight lines in formal settings, alongside ponds or just here and there in less formal gardens. From seed it is quite variable but many named varieties are on the market and are worth checking out as their leaf width, flower, scent and hardiness all vary.
Lomandra confertifolia spp. rubiginosa ‘Seascape’ is a very fine weeping Lomandra with blue green leaves and only grows to 50cm. It simply looks like a graceful grass without the bad habits of a large build up of dead material like most grasses.
Lomandra effusa is our very own local mat rush. It forms a low clump up to 50cm but usually less. The leaves are incredibly tough, in fact, one common name is cocky’s bootlace. To find them can be difficult and smelling them is usually a lot easier. The perfume is exquisite and will let you know it’s in flower for tens of metres away. While it is not often grown, it is worthwhile using in gardens for the fragrance alone.
The virtues of Lomandra are becoming well recognised and can often be seen in commercial and council plantings doing it tough under extreme conditions.
So for a cooling, weeping, low maintenance scented grassy effect consider Lomandras for anywhere from a damp shade house to under our local mallee.
This article first published in the Riverland Weekly © January 12, 2012.