Trees have many uses, some of which have only become evident in more recent times. It only takes 16 average-size trees to equal out the carbon emission of one human for one year. Trees reduce the needs for heating in winter and air-conditioning in summer. Used as windbreaks, evergreens increase humidity in a garden and reduce evaporation. Western Australia is facing increasing water restrictions and the following trees have all been chosen for their frugal water requirements.
Vintage Red (Eucalyptus cladocalyx ‘Vintage Red’)
This new-release evergreen performs well in sandy soil and is very water efficient. Once established it will manage with available groundwater and rainfall. It is a grafted tree and the name comes from the red pigment in the leaves. It likes full sun and grows to 15 to 18 metres
Coastal She-Oak (Casaurina equisetifolia)
The large, tough coastal she-oak flourishes from Broome in the north of Western Australia right down to Esperance in the south. It is unphased by strong winds, salt and dry periods, withstanding all with equanimity. It likes full sun and grows to 18 metres.
Fuchsia Mallee (Eucalyptus forrestiana)
The small yellow flowers of the fuchsia mallee appear in autumn and develop into spectacular red pods. It grows well in sand or clay particularly along the south coast. Unpruned, it can reach a height of around 6 metres with a 5 metre width.
Gungurra (Eucalyptus caesia) (Silver Princess)
A dainty but stunning small tree that copes with dry conditions. The bark has reddish stripes and the flowers are large and a silvery-pink colour.
Queensland Firewheel Tree (Stenocarpus sinuatus)
This rainforest member of the Protea family thrives in Perth conditions. The firewheel flowers develop in late summer and create a spectacular display. It is perfect for a medium to large garden. As it grows to 16 metres with a span of 8 metres, it needs room.
Red Flowering Gum (Corymbia ficifolia)
This tree is of medium size and quite spectacular with summer clusters of blooms in cream or various shades of red, pink and orange. It is highly attractive to birds and bees and grows to 12 or 15 metres with a span of 6 to 8 metres.
Eastern Red Bud (Cercis Canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’)
This 6 metre tree is ideal for small gardens. The foliage produces a palette of stunning colours of yellows, oranges and reds during autumn. It likes full sun.
Pink Powder Puff (Calliandra surinamensis)This is not a common tree around Perth but is well worth chasing. The foliage is most attractive and the pink pom-pom flowers are stunning. Plant in November in full sun. It is suitable for smaller gardens reaching 4 metres in height with a span of 3 metres.
Ornamental Pear (Pyrus calleryana ‘Aristocrat’)
The ornamental pear is ideal for Western Australia’s climate. It will also grow on the coast if offered some protection. The tree is large with spectacular white flowers in spring followed by stunning autumn foliage. It is easy on both water and maintenance. It can grow to 11 metres with a span of 7 metres.
Golden Shower Tree (Cassia fistula)
These need to be planted when the soil is still warm (October/November). It then needs regular water and fertilised for the first two to three years. However, once established, it needs no further supplementary watering. Dry summer days will elicit a late summer display of stunning, long, golden weeping racemes of flowers. It likes full sun and will grow to 8 metres with a span of 6 metres.
It is hard to go past native Australian trees when looking for plants that will do well in local gardens.