This Sunday is Wattle Day, a time for appreciating and celebrating Australia’s national emblem, as well as one of our earliest building materials.
The name ‘Wattle’ isn’t actually the correct term for the ubiquitous Acacia trees that glow yellow each Spring around the country. Rather, it’s an Anglo-Saxon word that referred to flexible branches, and walls or barriers made from them. Early British settlers used the pliant stems and branches of local trees as wattles to make the framework for their homes, which were then covered (‘daubed’) with mud. Those early homes were called ‘wattle-and-daub’ huts.
Australians have been calling the Acacia trees ‘wattle’ ever since.
Indigenous Australians have long used Wattles in their daily lives, for a wide range of purposes: as food and medicines, utensils and weapons, musical instruments, firewood, glue, string, dye, footwear and costumes.
At last count (according to Wattle Day Association), Australia has 1,210 different variations of the Acacia tree, with nearly all of them occurring only in Australia. While many are tall and wide-spreading, there are some that will work well in the garden, from low-growing shrubs to 2-4 metre high bushes.
Ask your local nursery for the wattles that are best suited to your region and backyard and let your garden glow each spring.