I am not going to try to conceal the reverence and adoration I have to the Australian Tea Tree (Leptospermum laevigatum). Wind disregarded and architectural, these trees seem to be formed by hand rather than grown. They sweep wildly across the landscape, and no two trees are ever alike. Growing up in San Diego, I would climb these trees in my favorite beach, only later discovering the name. As it turns out, Australian Tea Trees create for beautiful landscape layout features in more than just my childhood shore.
Botanical name: Leptospermum laevigatum
Common names: Australian Tea Tree, Coast Tea Tree
USDA zones: 9 to 11
Water necessity: Little to none
Light requirement:Total sun
Mature size: 10 to 30 feet tall and wide
Tolerances: Drought; thrives in coastal Problems
Distinguishing attributes. Australian Tea Tree is a showstopping specimen tree that exudes a casual and understated aesthetic. The flaky gray bark and twisting type of the tree’s back are identifiers of the tea tree and that which make it so unlike every other. The trunk and bark just become more sculptural with age.
Fine foliage and petite white flowers softly contrast the coarse back of the tree, creating a balanced juxtaposition. Flowering in spring, the tree creates a dazzling display of small, white flowers throughout the leaves and stalks.
Photograph by Stephen Bain through Wikimedia Commons
How to utilize it. The picturesque appearance of the tea tree, highly ornamental and sculptural, makes it a specimen tree. Given room and time to mature, its limbs will only disperse and twist more, creating a living landscape sculpture and ideal shady landscape spot.
Australian Tea Tree can also be trained as a windbreak, a backyard display or a covered walk — revealed here at Lotusland in Santa Barbara, California. Although this treatment of the tree prevents its branching structure from taking form, fine leaves and flowers will still blanket its branches. This usage requires labour.
Planting notes. Native to coastal climates, tea trees flourish in well-drained, somewhat acidic soil. The tree is susceptible to root rot if the soil is too moist. Long term living and quick growing, Australian Tea Tree requires little extra care once established. If you allow it to grow out entirely, you are able to narrow regions to highlight its shape; it requires very little pruning.
More amazing layout trees:
Dove Tree | Bald Cypress | Chinese Witch Hazel | Japanese Maple | Manzanita
Persian Ironwood | Smoke Tree | Texas Mountain Laurel | Tree Aloe
Great layout flowers:
Ornamental Allium | Canna Lily | Catmint | Golden Creeping Jenny | Pacific Coast Iris
Plumbago | Red Kangaroo Paw | Sally Holmes Rose | Slipper Plant | Snake Flower
Great layout crops:
Euphorbia | Red-Leafed Mukdenia | Blue Chalk Sticks | Hens-and-Chicks
Redtwig Dogwood |Toyon
Great layout grasses:
Black Mondo Grass | Cape Rush | Feather Reed Grass | New Zealand Wind Grass