I have written about Eremophila before and I probably will continue to, as I am constantly inspired to garden in harsh conditions with them. As a group they would have to be among the toughest when it comes to frost tolerance, drought tolerance and for the most part, they are not fussy about soil type including the heaviest of clays.
They are characterised by a tubular flower with a pouting bottom lip followed by a hard woody seed capsule called a drupe. These, if they are lucky enough to be eaten by an emu (hence their common name) are deposited along with a nice bundle of fertiliser many kilometres away, ready to colonise a new area.
Emu bush flowers quite literally come in all colours and with a bit of planning, a garden could have them in flower right through the year. This also means they are providing a reliable source of nectar over long periods for nectar eating birds which in turn will keep insect numbers down for you.
Emu bushes come in all sizes except large trees. Many are quite flat ground covers, lots of small shrubs to 1m, many around 2m and still more 2-3m and a few small large shrubs / small trees including our own local Eremophila bignoniflora (3-4m) and E. longifolia (3-5m).
I have noticed over the past two years, an increased interest in emu bush as garden plants which in turn has meant that nurseries have been stocking more and of course Berri Native Plants has got the shelves busting with emu bush. A few varieties that are relatively new to cultivation include Eremophila ‘Augusta Storm’ – up to 0.5m with stormy purple flowers, E. Fairy Floss – 2m with orange/red flowers, E. veneta – 1m with metallic bluish green flowers, E. pinnatifida – 1m with fragrant leaves and pale purple flowers, just to name a few!
So with (slightly) cooler days and warm soils now is the time to get in the garden and get busy planting emu bushes!
This article first published in the Riverland Weekly © February 4, 2013.