I ‘visited the interior’ recently and was reminded of a very useful, underutilised and pretty plant genus, the Eremophilas. These are extraordinary Australian shrubs able to withstand months without rain, nutrient deficient soils, frost and a wide range of soil types. Their natural distribution is almost all of Australia with the exception of the tropics and southern Victoria and Tasmania. They favour low rainfall areas so along the coast they should be in the drier, sunny and well drained parts of the garden.
There are over 200 eremophilas, ranging from ground hugging bushes to small shrubs to small trees and the flowers are showy and brilliantly colored from red through pink, blue, purple, yellow and white and often cover the whole bush.
Eremophila glabra has silvery leaves and red-orange flowers and a very wide mainland distribution including coastal areas and does very well in Sydney. Eremophila maculata has green leaves and attractive spotted flowers attractive to honey eaters and is available in commercial and hybrid forms, this plant is an excellent introduction to the genus. Look out for these amazing plants as they are likely to be a strong feature of low water gardens.
A number of Eremophilas have indigenous medicinal purposes, often being used as a cold or flu treatment.