In Australia, we have many symbolic species of plants that I always associate with Christmas. Some are truly Australian, and others follow the traditions of our northern hemisphere neighbours. The main symbolic plant of Christmas would have to be the Christmas Tree. There are many different stories as to how the Christmas Tree evolved to become the symbol of Christmas that it is today. For thousands of year conifers were traditionally used to celebrate Pagan and Christian winter festivals.
One of my favourite flowers for this time of year and something which is uniquely Australian is the NSW Christmas Bush. The flowers of this tree are actually small, white and fluffy which you see in the middle of Spring. They then go to seed and as the flowers start to dry out the sepals of the flowers then enlarge and turn a bright pink – orange colour usually in early December. It is the bunches of these sepals that florists sell as Christmas Bush.
Hydrangeas are normally also looking at their best at this time of year. The big mop topped varieties are my favourite, always reminding me of an old-fashioned floral swimming cap. Available in a variety of colours and dependent on the pH of your soil, they are always a long lasting good valued cut flower or look lovely planted in your garden.
Christmas Bells have a red bell-shaped flower with a narrow yellow margin. Naturally growing in heathland coastal areas, they are slow growing. As a cut flower they last for a long time in a vase.
Summer flowering Eucalypts are normally in flower though Summer. The grafted species of Eucalyptus ficifolia have large beautiful gum flowers with blooms usually in red, orange or yellow. They then give way to the large gumnuts that are a beautiful decoration on their own.
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