Rediscovering local flora

“SaltBush is a journey; a journey through a garden to rediscover what our local environment means to us. The journey begins in the ‘Salt’ coastal dunes, and culminates in an inland ‘Bush’ setting.”

 

SaltBush celebrates the beauty and diversity of native and indigenous flora. The incredible array of ecosystems in Victoria support over 5,000 species of plants and 1,200 vertebrate animals native to the state. Many of our endemic plants are considered rare, vulnerable, endangered or even presumed extinct. SaltBush is an opportunity to explore local plants not commonly cultivated for garden use.

The Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show 2024 is officially open, which means you can go and visit SaltBush right now! Here are just some of the diverse plants you will see as you wander around the garden. Our full list of species is available here.

Atriplex cinerea

Saltbush

The namesake of our garden, Saltbush is found along many parts of the Australian coastline. It’s iconic silver foliage adds a delicious salty, herby flavour to savoury dishes. Saltbush can grow in difficult saline and alkaline conditions, and is a hero in revegetation and rehabilitation planting as it can stabilise soils and prevent erosion.

Dicksonia antarctica

Soft Tree Fern

This terrestrial fern is found in wet forests of eastern Australia. Its gorgeous ‘trunk’ is a host for epiphytic ferns, orchids and bryophytes. This trunk-like stem also helps to protect the fern during fire, and the delicate unfurling frond of a soft tree fern is often the first sign of life after a bushfire has raged through the forest.

Eucalyptus leucoxylon subsp. Bellariensis

Bellarine Yellow Gum

This stunning eucalypt is listed as endangered in Victoria, where the only known population is on the Bellarine Peninsula. The population is highly fragmented and has been reduced by an estimated 95% over the last thirty years. In winter, its flowers are an important food source for birds and insects, when little else is flowering.

Xanthorrhoea australis

Austral Grass Tree

This species is the most widely distributed grass tree in Australia, occurring in all states and territories expect for NT. It takes decades for grass trees to develop their ‘trunk’ which is actually closely packed leaf bases. Xanthorrhoea have a close relationship with fire. The trunks are scorched black in bushfires but protect the growing tip at the centre, which can then reshoot. Grass trees take several years to flower but after a fire, they will flower prolifically.

Themeda triandra

Kangaroo Grass

Kangaroo grass spread from Asia to the Australian continent just over 1 million years ago, but is now found in every state and territory, as it is tolerant of a range of soil and climatic conditions. It is a dominant grass of temperate grasslands, which are critically endangered in Victoria. The seeds have a nutty flavour and can be used to make a flour.

Marsilea drummondii

Nardoo

This unassuming little aquatic plant can be found in every mainland state and territory aside from the ACT. It has even adapted to thrive in the arid regions of central Australia, able to lie dormant until the infrequent rains trigger germination – spores can remain viable for up to 30 years without rain! It is a vigorous grower that provides great breeding habitat for frogs.

 

 

Come and see these plants for yourself at the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show, March 20 to 24.