Plant Collections

Melaleuca Spits

The Melaleuca Spits is the Australian Garden’s principle representation of Australia’s rich and distinctive estuarine coastal topography. Strongly reminiscent of Australia’s coastal regions, this evocative feature of the Australian Garden landscape is highly visible from many other locations within the Garden. Layers of aquatic reeds, sand spits, and bands of Melaleucas provide particularly striking vistas from the River Walk precinct, Howson and Gibson Hills, and the Arbour Garden.

This Garden is marking the near end of the journey of water in the Australian landscape, where the river systems reach the coast and their water integrates with the sea, resulting in sand bars divided by brackish water.


Best Viewed

  • Winter, Spring, Summer, Autumn

Key Plants

Melaleuca linariflolia, Flax-leaved Paperbark is also called ‘Snow in Summer’ – This is a common street tree in Melbourne where it grows to a tree 5 – 10m tall with a large spreading canopy. In early summer it gets completely covered in masses of creamy white flowers. These plants are being pruned to create interesting shapes and forms. It’s a mix of two techniques, espaliering (pruning to train the trees to grow on a flat plane) and pleaching (pruning the canopy of a tree up and exposing the main trunk of the tree for effect while also containing the growth on the sides and top of the plant). The aim here is to create a windswept appearance that is typical of many trees growing in coastal environments. 

Curator Notes

Pruning is plant manipulation – it’s the removal of branches or other parts of plants to achieve specific outcomes. For example fruit trees are pruned to achieve the optimum shape form and stage of growth to achieve the best yields – Roses are pruned to removed diseased tissue , for shape and to promote good flowering. In this garden we are pruning to achieve a look – that of a gnarly windswept tree growing in harsh coastal conditions.