Summer flowering emu bushes
One of my favourite genus of plants is Australia’s Eremophilas commonly known as emu bushes. They occur naturally in low rainfall areas throughout Australia and are even desert dwellers. They tolerate alkaline soils and need little additional water once established through the first year. There is a selection of Eremophilas that will flower sporadically throughout the year and some will add a splash of colour in summer.
Eremophila macdonnelli is a variable shrub both in form, height and foliage colour with all of the forms having blue to purple flowers. The form from the Simpson desert is a rounded dome shaped shrub about 1 metre high by 1 metre wide, with grey foliage. It can flower throughout the year with brilliant large purple flowers that contrast with the foliage. Often it is at its best in summer adding colour to the garden. It prefers a sheltered position from strong winds but is suited to full sun and once established it is best not watered at all. It is a selection for low rainfall areas only, is very quick growing but can be temperamental especially if it gets wet feet. It responds well to pruning as do all of the Eremophilas.
Eremophila Summertime Blue is a cross between Eremophila divaricarta and Eremophila polyclada. It can grow to 1-2 metres high with a similar spread and is an open shrub that needs an annual prune to keep it in shape. It is another of the Eremophilas that appreciate being on the dry side and can grow in most soils including quite heavy alkaline soils. The flowers are a shade of lilac to blue and mostly appear in summer which stands out against a background of bright green foliage.
Eremophila weldii is a small shrub which may reach 1 metre high. It has unusual small leaves that have a bluish tinge to them. It grows naturally in South Australia and Western Australia and is very drought resistant and frost resistant; it is easy to grow on most soils again including heavy alkaline soils. It can be used as a low hedge and responds well to pruning. The lilac to blue flowers can appear throughout the year but it tends to always flower in summer.
The above is a few suggested Eremophila species to add some summer colour. There are 100s of different species of Eremophilas and they are being recognised and planted more widely due to their variability, their colour and their drought tolerance.