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'Dusky' - The Runaway Coral Pea

Jan Sked

Once upon a time, at a school where the children had stately Melaleuca trees to play under, it was decided that further plantings of Australian flora would make the school grounds even more beautiful for the children. The hard working Janitor was very pleased about this. First all the shrubs were planted in beds made around the Library by some SGAP members. Then the Teacher and the children of Grade 5 formed a Project Club and planted even more Australian plants.

   Kennedia rubicunda
   Kennedia rubicunda
Dusky coral pea

The Janitor said to himself, "Now it is my turn to plant some trees." And so he did. When he had a lot of different Callistemon and Eucalyptus and others growing nicely, he decided that it was time for him to make a big garden too. The soil in the area was sand and poor, so the Janitor got busy and dug and dug until he had removed a lot of it from the area. Loam was ordered to take its place. The Janitor was very happy! He got an SGAP member to select some suitable plants for this sunny, well drained position. Soon the plants arrived. There were Baeckea and Grevillea, Hibbertia and Callistemon, Leptospermum and Lomandra, as well Kennedia rubicunda, a Dusky Coral Pea, that was bought for a living mulch.

Still the loam did not come. The Janitor waited and waited. Then one day along came a truck with a big load of HEAVY BLACK SOIL. The Janitor got busy and put all this into his garden bed. Then he got a rotary hoe and dug a load of manure into it too. Within a short time all the plants were planted, watered and mulched with leaf mould over newspaper. The Janitor was very happy! The garden bed was so rich that he didn't have to water it very often. He could just watch all his plants grow. Little did he know what mischief was afoot.

Before long all the plants were getting new leaves. The Callistemon pachyphyllus got pink flowers and the Baeckea camphorata produced a lot of tiny white ones, but it was the Dusky Coral Pea that was growing the fastest of all!

By and by the school holidays began and there was nobody at the school to watch over the plants. "Now is my chance", thought Dusky, and he grew and grew and grew!!! In no time he had put runners around the downpipe and started his long climb. Up and up he went! Out and along he went! First he covered some of the ground floor windows and, when there was still nobody to stop him, he kept right on growing. Up and up! By the time the children and the Janitor came back from their holidays nearly half the building was covered by Dusky’s dark green foliage. The poor Janitor. He was not happy! The SGAP member was not very happy either! Dusky would have to be pruned back and removed from the garden. All his long twining foliage would also have to be removed so that the children could see out of their class room windows again. The Janitor will then be happy again....

So, if you have rich HEAVY BLACK SOIL and you plant a Dusky Coral Pea - DON'T go on holiday unless you leave someone to watch that it does not get up to mischief while nobody is looking.

From the newsletter of the Pine Rivers Branch of the Society for Growing Australian Plants (Queensland), March 2007.

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Australian Plants online - 2007
Association of Societies for Growing Australian Plants