Waratahs work wonders
SOME exciting work has been going on in recent years in Australian native plant breeding.
The demand for native plants is growing each year and new and improved forms are being released regularly.
Whether you are a climate change believer or a sceptic, there is no doubt that gardening conditions are becoming more challenging.
Gardeners are becoming more water aware and are searching out plants that can provide colour and form, while using less water than traditionally planted species.
The recent developments in the waratah family are some of the most exciting.
Waratahs occur naturally from New South Wales to Tasmania, and can be seen flowering in the Derwent Valley at Mt Field National Park during summer.
Most waratahs tend to be red or orange and can be sensitive to less than perfect soil conditions.
Some recent breeding has provided the home gardener with waratah options in a range of colours such as yellow, white and red, tolerant of a wide range of soil types.
The Shady Lady range of waratahs are some of the most well known.
Growing to about two metres tall, these plants provide spectacular flowers which are ideal for floral displays, as well as being beacons for visiting birds.
Waratahs are best planted in well drained soils in sunny or partly shaded positions.
These plants will grow best with the occasional deep ep watering and application of native fertiliser.
Mulching is also highly recommended.
For those who are in a frosty spot in winter, look for the variety Braidwood Brilliant.
Although the flowers are slightly smaller, this form seems to cope with cold better than the others.
Waratahs add colour and attract birds to the garden and also provide superb cut flowers, so seek them out at you local nursery now.
PRETTY HARDY: A magnificent New South Wales waratah and, inset, the delicate Tasmanian variety Telopea truncata.