Time to go native in the garden
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 vegetable 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 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 welldrained 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 curry-scented native daisy, ozothamnus radiance.
Bush Gem kangaroo paws
Bush Gem kangaroo paws
Purple-flowering west coast gem