Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

Hi folks,

I've been away from this site for ages, so I'm thrilled to see that it's still ticking along.

I'm looking to create a temporary screen or hedge for a particular area of the garden. In the long run, the job will be done by shrubs, but I'd still like a bit of privacy in the short run. So I'm after something that will grow quickly, last through the winter, get over 1.5m tall and is fairly easy to remove.

Candidates I've considered are:

  • lemongrass - I've used this as a screen/filler plant elsewhere in the garden (see picture) and it does a great job. I particularly love the fact that it is so easy to remove once it has done its job. However it is not quite tall enough, particularly in winter when it can start to look a bit sad and rusty.
  • vetiver grass - I don't have this growing at the moment, but I think it's also a bit too deep-rooted. Is it fairly easy to rip out?
  • pigeon pea - This would absolutely do the job, except that it gets munched by possums and looks pretty terrible and offers pretty minimal protection.

Can anyone think of better alternatives? I don't really want to go with a vine, because putting up a trellis is a bit of a business, and all the fast growing ones I can think of are either summer plants (eg. sweet potato) or possum food (choko, passionfruit).

I should also say that the position has full sun.


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Ooh, a browse of the Green Harvest website has given me the idea of West Indian lemongrass (the purple one). It's that little bit taller than normal lemongrass.

Curry tree is also a possibility, although it is a weed and keeping that under control would be a lot of work. I could possibly dig up a mature tree if I could find one.

Also, note that I would put sugarcane and bamboo in the "too hard to dig out" category.

Sugarcane is quite a business to remove and it doesn't have a thick bunch of stalks. Some Bamboos are non-running but once established, digging would be a challenge.

Vetiver has very deep roots and once a clump is established - unless you have sand - it would be a major undertaking to dig it out. There's plenty of Vetiver growing among BLFers. I bought some rooted slips from eBay for 3-4 dollars each, worth it for me as digging is beyond me.

The Lemon Grass comes in two forms, East and West Indian. Whichever one doesn't get the rust, is the one I grow.

Alternative to digging out an established clump of whatever, is to have them in big pots where disposing of them into the compost would be much easier.

Hi Rob, This might be a little left field. But have you considered tall Cosmos flowers?

I really like this idea, except that I think they're a bit flimsy? The spot is fairly exposed and I feel like one storm could see me back at square one.

Some Pigeon Peas are tall enough. Maybe best bet. Lovely plant.

Vetiver is immensely difficult to pull up but it can be easily trimmed.Great source of mulch.

Lemongrass dies back in Winter in  my experience --although the taller species stand up and will reach your preferred height 12 months of the year .My tall one grows to about 1.8 metres and looks better than its shorter, daggier, cousin.

Alternatively there are the succulents -- closely planted dragon fruit for instance  -- or Peruvian apple.

Jack Bean is a creeper/rambler but will climb keenly  over anything and is easily controlled  ---- ...another option is Queensland Arrowroot.

Thanks for the suggestions, folks. I think the idea of pots is a great one, and although I like the sound of the taller lemongrass, unfortunately I'm not growing that type, whereas I have some nice big plants of the smaller variety. I'll post a picture in a few months when the screen is up and looking good.

There are some tall salvias around that grow fast and cannas too. I've been harvesting giant sunflowers that are definitely taller than 1.5m but not sure if they would grow well in the colder months. All these would be easy to remove. A border of a combination of things around the shrubs that you want to be there more permanently would be interesting and give the shrubs protection as they grow. Just my 2 cents worth.

hibiscus clumping

Great idea: Native Hibiscus.

Yes! I have aibika and cranberry hibiscus that will definitely get tall enough over the warm months and then love full sun over winter.

I'm also going to take Cathie's suggestion of a combination of things, too. I just need to get potting/planting.

have several different native hibiscus here if you want cuttings - we use them as a fast growing screen against road lights ! and cannias and gingers heliconias etc 

Hi Mary-Ann,

Thanks for the offer, but it looks like you're on the other side of town to me. I'm in Annerley, in the inner south, but I think you're up on the north side?

My only exposure to Canna species is arrowroot, which has a tendency to collapse, but maybe that's not true of the whole family.

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