GARDENING | Wattle you plant in your garden this spring

As wattle comes into flower it is often mistakenly accused of causing hay fever in spring, but allergy tests rarely confirm wattle as the culprit. Picture: Shutterstock
As wattle comes into flower it is often mistakenly accused of causing hay fever in spring, but allergy tests rarely confirm wattle as the culprit. Picture: Shutterstock

The bushland and gardens across the country are bursting into bloom with the colours of green and gold as wattle from groundcovers to large shrubs and trees blanket the landscape.

Wattle can be found growing in every state and territory in Australia, which is one of the reasons it was selected as our national floral emblem - Golden Wattle to be precise, botanically known as Acacia pycnantha.

There are almost one thousand species of wattle native to Australia, which means there is a wattle suitable for gardens in every state, region or town.

Wattle even has a species with purple flowers and another with red. A leprosa, 'Scarlet Blaze', which may be hard to find in nurseries, is well worth seeking out.

Most, however, flower in the range of creamy white to bright golden yellow.

Flowers are borne in globular heads or cylindrical spikes depending on species and many have a delicate, subtle scent.

As wattle comes into flower it is often mistakenly accused of causing hay fever in spring, but allergy tests rarely confirm wattle as the culprit.

So when you see wattle in flower season, don't be too quick to blame it for the sneezing and itchy eyes.

The foliage varies from divided leaf types to those with leaf-like structures called phyllodes. These are a modified flattened stem which functions as a leaf.

The foliage can vary from green to blue-grey or almost silver.

As a garden plant wattle is relatively short-lived, but responds well to pruning immediately after flowering to help extend its life.

Selective breeding has given rise to a number of wattle varieties superior to the species types and are more reliable as ornamental garden plants.

Acacia cognata, 'Limelight', is considered as the best dwarf wattle for Australian gardens.

Limelight grows to 1m x 1m and can also be purchased as a grafted standard, its pendulous foliage cascading over time to ground level.

There are other A cognata varieties such as 'Copper Tips' and 'Bower Beauty'; which have attractive bronze to orange new growth that brings another colour to the garden.

Some species of wattles are invasive so care should be taken when selecting, particularly species being grown outside their natural range.