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Mimosa is now widespread in most of Europe, it was one of the first ornamental plants imported from Australia into our continent, so much so that it is now widespread even in the wild along the Mediterranean coasts; in recent years the interest of enthusiasts is also turning to other species of Acacia, all characterized by particular yellow inflorescences, or sometimes ivory or cream. Many other Australian plants, on the other hand, are enjoying increasing success only in recent years.The spread of Australian plants in Europe has certainly been made by choosing among the most spectacular plants, with very decorative and showy blooms; but one of the reasons why many plant producers have turned to the plants of that distant continent is to be found also in the climate: dry and torrid summers, cold and scarce rainy winters, associated with rainy middle seasons, make many areas of the Australia places so similar to the European coasts that they can cultivate the plants widespread in them without problems. In addition to this, many Australian plants are very well adapted to exposure to sunlight, produce flowers during the winter or when the first spring warms arrive; these characteristics have made them very suitable for the audience of European enthusiasts, who already in February wish to have a flower garden.Over the years, many plant producers, aided by universities and specialized centers, have contributed to expanding the range of Australian plants available for Italian gardens, adapting species that could only survive in the Mediterranean areas to the northern central winter climates.In addition to acacia dealbata, some other Australian plants have been grown in Italy for a long time; first of all we remember the eucalyptus, which in some areas of Liguria has supplanted the cultivation of flowers; in these areas the eucalyptus is cultivated for the production of green fronds for the cut flower market, in other areas of Italy the eucalyptus is used as an ornamental plant. In addition to these uses, the eucalyptus is one of the most well-known medicinal plants; although in Europe the species of Asian origin came first, in cultivation many have now been replaced by Australian species.Every year new Australian plants are introduced into Italian crops; many are sold in nurseries under the generic name of Mediterranean plants, meaning with this expression: "plants that prefer Mediterranean climates", or essences that love sunny places, with hot summers and winters not too rigid. In fact most of the Australian plants spread in our nurseries prefer sunny places, with many hours of sunlight per day and very well drained, sandy or stony soils; some can easily withstand drought, and the thick, leathery foliage, sometimes greyish, is well resistant in arid climates, although there are many exceptions, which prefer acid soils, or which require regular watering during the summer months. Many plants of Australian origin grown in Italy can withstand frosts, especially if they are short.Genus that counts some hundreds of species of trees and shrubs, widespread in Asia, Africa and Australia; they have oval foliage, in most cases the species is coriaceous.Among the proteaceae of Australian origin we recall the Banksie, very decorative, evergreen trees and shrubs; they have leathery, oval, sometimes pinnate, light green or grayish foliage.Various species of banksia have been introduced in cultivation in Europe, they are mainly large or medium-sized shrubs; they produce very particular inflorescences, consisting of long, very large and showy ears of yellow, orange or red color. They prefer slightly acid, very well drained soils.Other Australian proteaceae are the Telopee, small and medium evergreen shrubs, with large flowers similar to artichokes, bright red.Also the hakea is of Australian origin, a very decorative shrub, with large roundish inflorescences, similar to mimosas of giant size and bright red color.Among the many Australian proteaceae the most cultivated genus in Italy is certainly the Grevillea; once grown as a houseplant, now also common in gardens, thanks to the fact that many species have been imported, some of which are very resistant to cold. Also in this case they are evergreen shrubs, with red or orange, sometimes white, inflorescences. Some grevillee have spread very quickly, thanks to the fact that the foliage makes them very similar to some European conifers, but in spring they amaze us with their colored inflorescences.Callistemon, leptospermum and Wax flower
In all nurseries these days spring flowers fill the shelves; for some years very welcome guests are also the chamelaucium, called Wax flower; they are small shrubs with foliage similar to thin needles, evergreen, of a shiny and bright green color; in spring they are filled with small star-shaped flowers, white or pink. Easy to cultivate, they prefer sunny locations, well-drained soil and fairly regular watering; they slightly fear the cold in winter, so it is advisable to grow them in pots or in a place sheltered from the cold wind.
The same cultivation conditions for leptospermum, a plant with pink or white flowers, and small, dark green foliage.
Similar to these shrubs is westringia, a large roundish shrub with greyish, slightly pubescent, lilac or white flowers, vaguely reminiscent of rosemary.
The callistemon instead are slightly more resistant to cold plants, such as the metrosideros (other Australian plants) produce a curious red-colored inflorescence, which resembles a large pipe cleaner, in places of origin are called bottlebrush plants.
Australian plants: The latest arrivals
Australia is a country that includes an immense area, most of which is occupied by a vegetation that is conspicuous and exotic for us; many companies have been interested in the introduction of Australian plants in Europe and North America; for this reason, new species are available every year in nurseries, or hybrids of already widespread species.
Among the perennials we remember the brachyscome, small daisies of lilac or purple color; among the creepers the clianthus, an evergreen plant with pinnate leaves and circular inflorescences consisting of long red flowers, has recently been available.
Among the houseplants, many species of grevillea are cultivated, such as the grevillea lanigera, also used as a small Christmas tree; many cordyline species are widespread in cultivation, with green, pink or purple foliage.
And the list goes on, partly because plants that we see every day in the neighbor's garden are often of remote origin, but we simply don't know.