Waratahs work won­ders

The Gazette (Derwent Valley) - - NEWS - With RICHARD HOLE

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.

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