THE summer heat has arrived to dry up the sparse amount of rain we've had and of course Christmas is just around the corner.
So, it may be a good time to assess our surroundings, to find where we could provide some good shade for added protection during the hot weather.
A few weeks ago, we suggested a broad range of red flowering trees, mostly large growers.
With smaller housing blocks popular these days you may find some of the following suggestions more suitable.
Take a good look at where you could block the sun from your house, veranda, outdoor living area, shed etc. and take note of any unsightly views you could do without - workshop areas, a neighbour's messy surroundings, perhaps some graffiti damaged spots nearby and so on.
Many areas can be disguised or protected from the sun with smaller growing plants, which include such beauties as the Fringe Flower (Loropetalum chinensis), these days grown as small to medium size shrubs that produce rich pink flowers against purplish/red foliage.
Buckinghamia (Ivory Curl Flower) is a lovely native ornamental tree that grows about six - 7m tall and 3m wide and displays hosts of creamy white, scented flowers during summer and autumn.
A row of these would provide a most adequate sun protection screen, when planted in the right position - a good reason for assessing hot spots at this time of year.
Some lillypillies only grow about 3m wide, and these include the delightful weeping variety Waterhousea floribunda that grows about six - 8m tall, with colourful flushes of new foliage, and masses of small white flowers in summer, followed by round green fruit.
Another of these is the Roly Poly Satinash, a dense weeping shrub that grows about 5m tall, with new red leaves changing to yellow then green throughout the year, and clusters of white summer flowers and rich purple fruit - it's a beauty.
Our best suggestion is to go to your favourite garden centre and ask their advice on your requirements.
Labelling these days is usually pretty accurate, and will advise you on soils, amount of water, fertiliser and other necessities.
The many edible fruiting shrubs and trees include the citrus family, and if you have restricted space, most of them do very well in large tubs.
Consider several varieties of lemon, including the lemonade tree that is very popular with children and gives them the goodness of citrus with a nice flavour, without needing added sugar.
Oranges include the Washington navel, seedless valencia and others and then there are Tahitian and finger limes.
Some of the lesser-known fruiting plants worth adding to the garden or to grow in tubs include the attractive Feijoa sellowiana (Pineapple Guava), a shrubby tree of about four - 5m, with wooly grey-backed shiny green leaves, delightful fuchsia-like flowers and great for jam and chutney.
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