Hardy gre­vil­leas ideal for tough spots

The Gazette (Derwent Valley) - - NEWS - With Richard Hole

AS many res­i­dents of the Der­went Val­ley would know, gar­den­ing can of­ten present many chal­lenges.

I am of­ten asked to sug­gest a plant that will be able to han­dle frost drought and re­sist brows­ing from na­tive an­i­mals.

In these in­stances, es­pe­cially if the plant­ing site is out of town, I usu­ally sug­gest try­ing an Aus­tralian na­tive species. One of the most re­li­able of these is the pop­u­lar gre­vil­lea fam­ily.

Gre­vil­leas have been in cul­ti­va­tion for many decades now, and the range is be­com­ing larger all the time.

Gre­vil­leas are re­lated to other well-known na­tives, banksias and hakeas, as well as in­tro­duced plants such as leu­co­den­drons.

They can have many forms and shapes, from small alpine ground cov­ers to huge trees. They are found nat­u­rally in most states of Aus­tralia and there re­ally is one suit­able for most gar­dens.

Many tele­vi­sion gar­den shows of­ten fea­ture the large flow­ered hy­brids such as “Honey Gem”. Un­for­tu­nately these showy beauties are un­likely to sur­vive the cooler cli­mate of Tas­ma­nia and are re­ally best left in the nurs­ery.

How­ever, there are many gre­vil­leas that thrive in our cli­mate. They tend to be of the “Spi­der Flower” group and have colours rang­ing from whites through to neon pink. All of these gre­vil­leas are ideal for at­tract­ing birds to your gar­den, as ei­ther a food source or habi­tat.

These spi­der flower types tend to orig­i­nate in cooler re­gions and of­ten alpine en­vi­ron­ments. These plants can be found as ground cov­ers and low or large bushy shrubs. They tend to have smaller leaves which help them con- serve mois­ture while be­ing less at­trac­tive to an­i­mals to eat. In fact some of these gre­vil­leas have leaves that are al­most nee­dle-like — a sure sign of a tough plant!

Gre­vil­leas as a rule re­quire a well-drained soil and a sunny po­si­tion.

For those with clay soils, suc­cess can be achieved by plant­ing into raised mounds to help pre­vent wa­ter­log­ging. Fer­til­is­ing is not nec­es­sary, but an oc­ca­sional ap­pli­ca­tion of a sea­weed so­lu­tion will en­cour­age flow­er­ing. Tip prune gre­vil­leas af­ter flow­er­ing to pro­mote a bushy habit and ex­tra blooms.

There are dozens of va­ri­eties avail­able in most nurs­eries but some of the best are listed be­low.

Pink Lady: A small shrub grow­ing one me­tre tall and wide. This one has small pink and white flow­ers.

Deua: Grow­ing around one and a half me­tres tall, pro­duces masses of red flow­ers.

Gold Clus­ter: A ground cover form with yel­low flow­ers and nee­dle type fo­liage.

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