The inconspicuous, the insignificant and the underwhelming

Sure, to the swanky author of a well-received volume on gardening it’s a throwaway line: “has insignificant flowers”, “flowers are inconspicuous”.  But how about some consideration for feelings, eh?  What’s wrong with “reserved”, “low profile”, “unpretentious”?

My 7 year old drew me aside the other day and whispered conspiratorially “At school I drew a picture of a plant’s bits!!!” In the light of this insight, which I really hope she didn’t share with her teacher, perhaps we could even go with “modest flowers”?

To be honest, I find persimmon flowers faintly perturbing when upended and exposed to the rude light of day.  Much better to let them shelter under their curtain of leaves.

I do, however, need to be rather forward with my demure custard apple flowers soon.  They may not look like much but there’s the smell of perfume in the air.  Time to wave my magical pollinating paintbrush and help create some atemoyan fecundity.  Or, given my pruning anxieties and the consequent fact that most of the new flowers are more than two and a half metres off the ground, perhaps it’s time to fall off a poorly located stepstool, crashing through branches, crushing multiple flowers and possibly poking myself in the eye with pollen-dusted painting gear on my way down.

Thankfully there’s no need to hand pollinate the midgen berries to get tasty little purple-and-white fruits.  Otherwise I’d have to get one of those three-haired brushes they use to paint a portraits on a grain of rice.

And then there’s the flowers that are not so much shy as downright recalcitrant.  On the left, a NSW Christmas bush down the road.  On the right, the unimpressive shade-dwelling specimen in our yard.

And another offender: Kunzea ambigua doing its thing elsewhere on the left and in our garden, not even making the effort to take a decent photograph.  Very poor form.

Thank goodness for institutional plantings.  Just because councils like to plant it on the median strip doesn’t mean I’m not happy to see the blue flax lily producing its, shall we say, somewhat coy flowers in the shade under the maple tree.  If your camera is close enough, even the teeniest flowers are significant. Could that be a metaphor for this blog? Or is it just a sales pitch for a macro lens?

4 thoughts on “The inconspicuous, the insignificant and the underwhelming

  1. Midgen berries. Austromyrtus dulcis, right? Bought some plants, but it might be too dry for them here, they are not thriving despite reasonably frequent irrigation. Do they like some shade? I heard they are frost sensitive. And are the berries worth it? Never heard much about their flavour. Maybe I could transplant one into my partner’s blueberry patch and see if it does better there.

    • Hi Ben, I’m not the world’s greatest expert on midgen berries, but mine – half the standard sort, dulcis, some Austromyrtus tenuifolia, and “coppertops”, a hybrid of the two (I know, naughty) have all done okay for me in quite a shady spot – probably 2 hours of sun in summer plus some dappled light, and very little direct light in winter at all. I occasional splash a bit of water on them. I have had some berries and they were tasty, though tiny, but given that my place is a favoured habitat for brush turkeys, possums, bowerbirds etcetcetc I haven’t seen too many of them myself!! They do look very nice. In terms of soil acidity, not sure if the very acid soil that suits blueberries would work for them though I think most oz natives like mildly acid soil. My bit of dirt is Hawkesbury sandstone so quite light and not water retentive… maybe you’d get better results with peat-equivalent soil that I think blueberries like?? Not sure. Might be a problem to mix standard fertiliser with native? Not sure on that front either. I would definitely advocate for tip pruning on these – probably because of the lack of light mine have been quite leggy – spreading out more like a groundcover than a bush. Mind you they are trying to outcompete the waving fields of Plecanthus argentatus (a fave native that has beautiful silver leaves in the shade) that has completely taken over that part of my garden.

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