Garden Early Spring 2015


Australian Painted Lady Butterfly

Australian Painted Lady Butterfly

What a glorious spring morning now, very clear blue sky and the air is still with hardly any wind blowing. Now and then the silence is broken by the chirping noise of birds. The temperature will reach 27 deg. C, and right now is a pleasant 23 deg.

The garden is fragrant with so many spring blooms. With more than enough rainwater during the winter, all plants look so healthy and luscious. Many honey bees and painted lady butterflies are busy themselves to get as much nectar as possible from one flower to another. Even some big flies are joining the feast.

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Hardy Genista racemosa

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Shorter Flower Spike

After replacing the stake, our old Genista racemosa plant started to develop yellow leaves and many small branches died. I think putting the stake incorrectly too close to the trunk has caused the troubles. It might break some of the roots. The plant grew leaning towards the driveway. When we pulled it straight, there was a big chance that more of the roots were broken. I noticed that the base of the trunk was black. The heavy rains lately made the matter worse.

When Spring arrived this year in September, the other two Genista plants had already flowered, but the one that was having roots problem did not flower. I was thinking that it was struggling and eventually would die. But later when the other two had finished flowering, I saw flower buds started to grow on the tips of sick looking and thin little branches. I hardly believed my eyes that the ill Genista still managed to flower.

Today, I can see the tree is covered with short and stumpy yellow flower spikes. It is not as pretty and luscious as it used to be, but it is telling me that Genista racemosa is a tough little plant if grown in warmer climate. After the caterpillar attack and later root problems, it is still alive.

Blackened base of the trunk

Genista racemosa – Root Damage


Struggling and No Flowers

The old Genista racemosa near the letter box is not flowering this spring, while the other two young ones that we have are in full bloom. I planted the other two from the seedlings that grew from the first.

Sometime earlier this year, I noticed that the old Genista near the letter box was growing leaning toward the driveway. I told F (my husband) to replace the wooden stake that obviously did not do the job anymore. Anyway, I did not see it when he was replacing the stake. I was actually a little bit upset when I saw the quite large wooden stake. It was not round and he did not sharpen the part of the stake that was inserted into the ground. As a result, some of the roots were likely damaged when he forced it down,  much too close to the base of the trunk, with a large mallet. When the plant was pulled forcefully to stand straight, there was also a big chance for more roots to get damaged.

No use to complain too much, the damage was done. Since then, that Genista plant that was just recovered from the caterpillars investation almost 2 years ago, was really struggling all over again. The frequent heavy rains during the autumn and winter make it even worse. Many small branches were dried and they lost a lot of leaves. I can see the base of the trunk near the roots  kind of black. It is not dead completely now and new leaf buds have started to grow back this spring, but there are no flowers. Hopefully, it will flower again the next season.

The other two young plants that we have are growing healthy and flowering nicely. I know that Genista racemosa hates to have its roots disturbed.

These are the other two young Genista racemosas that are flowering now:

Link to go to the last post on Genista racemosa: https://kiyanti2008.wordpress.com/2010/10/01/genista-racemosa-follow-up/

October 10,2011:

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I noticed that the struggling Genista near the letter box started to develop flower buds!!!!

Stunted, but they are flowers. It proves how tough this plant is. Most of the flowers are still in buds now, I will post some pictures when they have fully opened. The canopy still looks scraggly….. but hopefully with a drink of seaweed tea, it will grow thick and green like before.

Genista racemosa… Follow-up


After complete defoliation by caterpillars in March this year, our Genista racemosa is recovering very well. Now it is blooming!!! I notice that the canopy is smaller than before and it is more compact. It seems that the caterpillars trimmed it really hard and surprisingly did a good job. Ha…

Genista racemosa After the Attack


There were so many of you! Why were you so greedy? I love my Genista plant and it had lost all the leaves because of you, greedy caterpillars. I know that you will grow into pretty little moths. I love butterflies and moths…. I love to see them flying around in my garden. But once again, you were too greedy, very destructive little creatures. I had no choice but to kill you. If it was only a few of you, I would have never noticed you at all and your chance to live would be much greater.

Here I am lamenting and finding reasons for killing those tiny caterpillars, ha, ha! Anyway, I am happy now that after we had few autumn rains lately, our G. racemosa has started to look quite green again with new foliage.

I’m not sure what those caterpillars are called. I think they are some type of Genista caterpillar and the species that is commonly found attacking Cytisus plants in Australia is Uresiphita ornithopteralis or with the common name tree lucerne caterpillar/moth.


Genista racemosa


Genista racemosa

Our G. racemosa at the entrance of the driveway

If you love bright yellow flowers, Genista racemosa can be the plant for you to grow. Last year’s long drought in Victoria (Australia) did not affect the performance of this tough plant. Now during the Australian spring time,  it is showing off masses of pealike blooms that cover the whole plant. I have shaped it into a rounded topiary and year after year it awards me with a showy display of golden colour.

This hardy evergreen plant is also known as Sweet Broom, Canary Island Broom or Cystisus spachianus. Originally it is from Canary Islands. A very quick growing plant which can grow up to 2 meters (6 ft) high. It is perfect to make a topiary. It has a small compound leaves which consist of three oval leaflets. Best grown in warmer area and it needs very low maintenance. Will do well in average well drain soil with full sun position and it hardly needs any fertilizer.

It is said that this plant is regarded as an invasive weed, so it will affect the market availability in some area. However, I have grown G. racemosa for many years and I have never had any problem with growing seeds that invade my garden bed at all. In comparison, I have continuous problems with next door loquat tree (Eriobotrya japonica) where the seeds of the mature fruits grow everywhere in my garden bed and I have a problem of pulling them off the ground.

Useful Hint: If you have already planted it and you have problems with invasive new shoots around your garden bed, it is better to prune the finish flowers as quick as possible before the pods are mature. This way the possibility for the seeds to fall and to grow out of control will be completely reduced. Pruning and shaping G. racemosa after flowering will also give the plant a nice and compact shape and more flowers in following spring time.

Happy gardening.

Update March 23,2010

Our Genista racemosa was badly damaged by caterpilars. All of sudden I noticed that this supposedly evergreen little tree had become completely bare. When I looked closely I notice that the plant was practically covered by hundreds of tiny caterpilars. So quickly I sprayed it with Perythrum insecticide. Very quickly those nasty pests were wriggling themselves to death. Hopefully the plant will recover………..

Jan. 2010:

Link to other blogs about this plant: