November is jacaranda time in Sydney. Jacarandas are South American trees but do wonderfully in our climate. The plant drops its leaves in late winter and flowers on bare branches, the light-grey trunks providing a foil for the blue canopy. Afterwards, the leaves arrive in time to provide relief from summer heat. Jacarandas can grow to a massive size (10m high with a similar spread, if not more) and impressive age. There is also a white-flowering form which, although attractive, somehow lacks the It Factor of the original.
I've never understood the frequent suggestions to plant kurrajongs with jacarandas. Kurrajongs flower a staring red, and the combination of red and violet is migraine-inducing. It occurred to me that the golden flowers of silky oaks would look much better with violet. I was impressed to find that Peter Olde has a whole avenue of this combination on his Oakdale property, 'Silky Oaks'. I wish I could be out there to see it today!
The silky oak, unfortunately, is another giant. The largest grevillea species, it can reach three storeys in height -- taller than the jacaranda, but without so great a spread.
At my place, we have a very small jacaranda, a seedling collected by my friends Lucy and Peter. It's planted near the mailbox, where in time I hope it will become a welcoming shade tree. Unfortunately, this is a bit uncertain. The Geek hit it with the whipper-snipper a while ago and now it constantly tries to shoot from the base. Since I hacked off the side shoots, it has the proportion and grace of a Jersey cabbage, and we haven't seen a flower on it yet. Imagine a three-metre stick with a green pom-pom on the end, and that's what we have adorning the front garden. If the damage to the base is serious enough, it might suddenly keel over, so I've planted a bopple-nut (Macadamia tetraphylla) underneath as an instant replacement. In a few years I'll decide which tree gets to stay.