Time to go na­tive in the gar­den

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - Street Watch - Tim Parker

GAR­DEN­ING LATE win­ter and into spring are per­fect times to add Aus­tralian na­tive plants to your gar­den.

The avail­abil­ity of na­tive plants is at its peak now and through spring, so bring the colours of Aus­tralia home.

Some gar­den­ers don’t grow na­tives. I’ve never un­der­stood this.

You can have a gar­den of just na­tive plants and that is a fan­tas­tic op­tion, but you can also have a mix of na­tive and ex­otic plants and that is also per­fectly fine.

In fact, I think the best gar­dens are those fea­tur­ing plants that are well suited to our cli­mate – not just from Aus­tralia but from all around the world.

Our na­tive plants come in an in­cred­i­ble ar­ray of forms and tol­er­ances.

They are so flex­i­ble you can cre­ate vir­tu­ally any style of gar­den, whether it’s for­mal, cot­tage or even Ja­panese.

There are tan­gi­ble ben­e­fits to grow­ing na­tives too.

Firstly, they gen­er­ally re­quire less wa­ter and fer­tiliser than ex­otic plants.

But the real spin off is that na­tives help to cre­ate a nat­u­ral bal­ance in our gar­dens. They en­cour­age and pro­vide food and habi­tat for na­tive birds and other fauna, and im­por­tantly en­cour­age ben­e­fi­cial preda­tory and pol­li­nat­ing in­sects into our gar­dens.

This means the build-up of dam­ag­ing in­sect pests is kept in check by preda­tors and vis­it­ing pol­li­na­tors like bees, help pro­duce bet­ter crops in the veg- etable gar­den and from fruit trees.

Over re­cent years kan­ga­roo paws have had a huge jump – or should we say hop – in pop­u­lar­ity.

Thanks to the ef­forts of won­der­ful plant breed­ers like An­gus Stewart, mod­ern kan­ga­roo paws re­ally of­fer great value and fan­tas­tic gar­den per­for­mance.

The Bush Gem’s kan­ga­roo paws are among the best – easy to grow and they flower for much of the year, so you re­ally get bang for your buck.

They look spec­tac­u­lar when group planted and also do well in fea­ture pots. Plant them into soil that has been im­proved with a lit­tle added soil im­prover.

They pre­fer open, sunny po­si­tions and well-drained soil is a must.

Feed them in au­tumn and spring with a con­trolled (slow re­lease) fer­tiliser.

When flower spikes have gone off the boil, cut them down to the base to en­cour­age more flow­er­ing.

If whole clumps need re­gen­er­at­ing you can cut all fo­liage down to the ground and the clump will re­gen­er­ate from its un­der­ground grow­ing tips.

Plant some of these fan­tas­tic va­ri­eties like iconic red and green flow­er­ing, bush dance, red bush el­e­gance, golden bush bo­nanza and candy pink bush pearl.

These are all com­pact plants usu­ally about 50cm to 1m high when in flower.

Some other na­tives to look out for right now are rich, pur­ple-flow­er­ing west coast gem, a stun­ning form of our WA na­tive hi­bis­cus, mounded-ground­cover type gre­vil­leas like pinky pe­tite and red flow­er­ing sea spray and cur­ryscented na­tive daisy, ozotham­nus ra­di­ance.

Bush Gem kan­ga­roo paws

Bush Gem kan­ga­roo paws

Pur­ple-flow­er­ing west coast gem

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