MADE IN AUS­TRALIA

Big, bold and gor­geous, our na­tive flow­ers are amaz­ing. Our gar­den guru Mered­ith Kir­ton re­veals how to grow your own at home.

Homes+ (Australia) - - CONTENTS - Mered­ith Kir­ton is a hor­ti­cul­tur­ist, land­scape de­signer and au­thor of sev­eral books on gar­den­ing.

How to grow na­tive flow­ers – they look great both in the gar­den and in a vase.

WITH THEIR STUN­NING BLOOMS

and tex­tured leaves, Aus­tralian na­tives are a knockout in both the gar­den and in a vase. The most com­monly loved cut na­tive flow­ers in­clude waratahs, banksias and gum blos­soms, kan­ga­roo paws and Christ­mas bush.

What­ever your soil or cli­mate, it’s pos­si­ble to find the right se­lec­tion for your place. Many na­tives don’t like be­ing fed phos­pho­rous, so use a na­tive spe­cific fer­tiliser each spring. Na­tives also like be­ing pruned reg­u­larly, so cut them back af­ter flow­er­ing.

WARATAHS

Waratahs are the flo­ral em­blem of NSW and pos­si­bly one of the most strik­ing flow­ers in the world. Their blooms are the colour of blood, though some have been bred in pink, orange, bi­colour and white shades. The flow­ers last for many weeks both in a vase and bloom­ing in the gar­den. Grow them in a raised mound or pot as they re­ally need great drainage to thrive. They can be in a semi shaded or full sun po­si­tion.

GREVILLEAS

Also known as spi­der flow­ers, this group has ex­tra­or­di­nary di­ver­sity, with plants rang­ing from small ground cov­ers to tall trees. If you’re in a frost-free po­si­tion, trop­i­cal hy­brids are prob­a­bly best, es­pe­cially for cut flow­ers. They in­clude great shrubs like Gre­vil­lea ‘Robyn Gor­don’ and taller screens like ‘Misty Pink’, ‘Moon­light’ and ‘Honey Gem’ – and they seem to flower year round. In colder ar­eas, stick to the hardy, small-flow­ered types like Gre­vil­lea

‘Gold Fever’ and ‘New Blood’.

KAN­GA­ROO PAWS GUM BLOS­SOMS

The Western Aus­tralian Red Flow­er­ing Gum (Co­rym­bia fi­ci­fo­lia) is now grafted onto a range of hardy root­stocks, mak­ing it per­fect for grow­ing right across Aus­tralia. There are white, pink, orange and red hy­brids, and they are all breath­tak­ing. They’re also bril­liant for small gar­dens as they only grow to around 5m tall, though this varies from cul­ti­var to cul­ti­var. The flow­ers are fol­lowed by large gum­nuts too, mak­ing them per­fect for cut­ting some­thing of in­ter­est for about six months of the year.

The Sil­ver Princess Gum

(Eu­ca­lyp­tus cae­sia) is only suit­able for very well drained po­si­tions with­out hu­mid sum­mers, but if you have the right spot this is per­haps one of the most stun­ning flow­ers to grow. Its pink­ish red blooms, up to 4cm each, show up beau­ti­fully against the soft grey leaves. It has a gen­tly weep­ing habit too, that can ac­tu­ally be ma­nip­u­lated to grow on an ar­bour so that the blos­soms hang down like gar­lands. This is a small shrub or small tree de­pend­ing on the va­ri­ety, which can make great screen­ing plants. The “flow­ers” are the showy bracts that ap­pear through­out sum­mer af­ter the small white flow­ers in spring. They grow best in moist or reg­u­larly wa­tered, or­gan­i­cally en­riched soil, in full sun or semi shade. Pick lots of flow­ers, as more prun­ing makes them thicker and bushier, which means more flow­ers next year! These grassy reed-like clumps range in size from around 30cm up to 1m, and their blooms sit up off stems that vary in length and colour de­pend­ing on the va­ri­ety… some red, others yel­low, orange and pink. There are even black and near-white types around. They all like good drainage so ei­ther mound the soil or grow in large pots or bowls. Re­move old flow­ers once they have faded.

NSW CHRIST­MAS BUSH HAKEA

Hakea are closely re­lated to grevilleas and, sim­i­larly, are a di­verse group of plants. Many make great screens and can even be hedged. One stun­ning flow­ered Hakea to look out for is Hakea

lau­rina, or the Pin-cush­ion Hakea. Na­tive to Western Aus­tralia, it does need good drainage but, once es­tab­lished, is very hardy. And it’s a won­der to look at in the gar­den when in flower each spring.

BANKSIAS

These can­dle-like blooms – named af­ter Sir Joseph Banks – have species that are na­tive to both the east coast and the west coast of Aus­tralia. Their stun­ning flow­ers range from red and orange shades through to blue and green, de­pend­ing on the species. Some are trees and others ground cov­ers.

The top pick for ar­eas in the west, South Aus­tralia and Melbourne, where sum­mers aren’t hu­mid, is prob­a­bly Scar­let Banksia (Banksia

coc­cinea). This va­ri­ety has in­cred­i­ble flow­ers and will also make a great screen up to around fence height.

If you are from Syd­ney or fur­ther north up the east coast, the Hair­pin Banksia (Banksia eri­ci­fo­lia) is beau­ti­ful and hardy. There is also a ground-cov­er­ing cul­ti­var called ‘Birth­day Can­dles’, which only grows about 30cm tall but does spread to about a me­tre across, cre­at­ing a stun­ning mound.

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