If you look around at the older houses in any old part of town in our subtropical zone (Yamba to Bundaberg) you will start to notice a theme with the plants they used. They used plants that were proven performers. They had flowers or foliage that provided colour for most of the year. They were old robust and sturdy specimens, that had been through many good and bad seasons of growth.
Some of these we have embraced still to these days. Some got left behind, because they needed a little more attention than we were willing to provide. Some were superseeded by newer trendier varieities, when in fact, the older varieties were quite showy.
In the last 40
years for example nurseries have been all about trying out new plants, whether they are natives or from similar climates. Plants become popular and then people start realising some qualities they don’t like about them and the trend is over and onto a new plant. Sometimes it’s just due to a matter of extra choices. Other times because the plant really isn’t a good choice for smaller or home gardens.
Frangipanis, Red Cordylines and crotons are the type of plants, that have become poopular again. They are showy plants with outstanding flowering and foliage performance. With all of these there are many different varieties of colours, and leaf shapes.
In the left behind range we have Hydrangeas, which can be a little hard to get on their way, but an old bush is very hardy. Good specimens of azaleas really make them worth the effort, but are often attacked by pests and diseases if they are not healthy, and they have a multitude of colours. Hibiscus are also very tough, but prefer rich loose soli. In heavy soil they are poor performers, but looked after in sandy soil and they can provide flowers all year round, and have amazing colours and flower size. Crepe Myrtles are another plant that these days aren’t so popular as before. In summer they put on an amzing flower display.
Fiji Fire Plants or Acalypha wilkesiana are an example of a popilar old plant that has been superseeded by trendier new variety. The larger leaves had a large colourful leaf,
either green and yellow, red or tricolour leaf. These days the most popular varieties are the small leafed varieties. I prefer the large leaf varities any day.
As for trees you couldn’t go past the Jacranda and Poinciana. But these trees have never gone out of fashion.
Maybe you might be considering making your own old style garden, and if you do consider these plants as a good choice. Given the right conditions that can be very fruitful plants, for that garden that puts on a consitent good show.