Princess in the parlour

There’s a princess in my garden – a Silver Princess. She grows near my driveway and drapes her silver-grey leaves and pendulous pink blossoms across the parked cars.
Beautiful as she is, I need to trim her enthusiasm.

The Silver Princess (Eucalyptus caesia) is a small tree endemic to south-west Western Australia. It’s widely cultivated as a garden plant, making a lovely feature specimen. It also works crammed into a small space and left to emerge and drape across a driveway, but will then require some pruning, which, due to its growth habit, is not entirely easy. But its weeping form is one of its many attractions. The silver-grey appearance of the leaves and stems is due to a waxy coating, which rubs off when you touch the tree. The trunk is red and the bark flakes off in small strips – a process that is described as minnerichi. (What a great word!)

Although relatively common as a garden plant, Silver Princess is ‘near threatened’ in the wild. It’s distribution in the wild is patchy and restricted to a relatively small area of the WA wheatbelt. But because it is widely cultivated, the species itself has greater security. Growing threatened or endangered plants in the garden is one way of helping to ensure their survival. We can’t all have a rhinoceros or a numbat in our backyards, but if we find places for threatened or endangered plant species, our gardens can help play a small part in maintaining genetic diversity. A small win for conservation.

Still, the Silver Princess in my garden needed some of her enthusiasm curtailed. I took my large secateurs and chopped a few branches. As they fell, I noticed one stem had a stunning pink blossom on it. I picked it up and took it inside, where I placed it in a vase, thinking I could get a day’s enjoyment from it before it faded. There were several other buds on the stem and I regretted that they would not flower. But surprise, surprise, the next day one of those buds had shed its cap and bristled forth with pink blossom. Over the coming days, the remaining buds also burst forth, tossing their caps on the carpet as they did so. Enthusiasm untrimmed!

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There’s a princess in my garden – a Silver Princess. She grows near my driveway and drapes her silver-grey leaves and pendulous pink blossoms across the parked cars. Beautiful as she is, I need to trim her enthusiasm … read more »