Ask Brownie

Hi Brownie,

A couple of questions for you.

Photo 1: Can you identify this plant? A very spikey individual.

Photo 2: Following your article about snakes, how about this beautiful little ‘helper’ in my workshop. A Spotted Python I believe.

And a question: I have a Lilly Pilly which has grown tall and ‘thinned out’ at the bottom. We wanted it thick to shade us from car headlights. If I prune the top will it thicken at the bottom?

Peter Cowell

Thanks for the questions and photos, Peter.

The first photo is one of the Euphorbia milii varieties – commonly called Crown of Thorns… for obvious reasons. There are lots of varieties, so it’s hard to tell you which exactly it is… but it is a beauty. It’s healthy and growing well, so keep doing whatever you’re doing now.

You’re lucky to have a Spotted Python in the workshop. It’ll work hard to keep rats and mice under control. They’re a small python and yours looks like an adult and is about as big as it will grow. I also like your work bench… very much the look of mine – ordered chaos.

Lilly Pillies being wet forest plants, grow to the light, and when they get taller, they don’t need the leaves at the base as there’s not enough light down there to keep them photosynthesising efficiently. Most Lilly Pillies respond well to brutal pruning, so I’d agree with your assessment and cut the tops out and see what happens.

If others are looking for a good screening plant that keeps it’s leaves to almost the ground level, my suggestion would be Eumundi Quandong (Elaeocarpus eumundi), Jaboticaba (bonus – it has edible fruits) or Magnolia ‘Teddy Bear’.

Magnolia ‘Teddy Bear’

If you’d like to send me a question or a photo of something interesting in your garden, just pop me a line at