Hardy grevilleas ideal for tough spots
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.