Ovens & Murray Advertiser - North East Regional Extra
A GARDEN with nectar-producing flowers is an open invitation to dinner for insects and birds.
Birds are delightful entertainment - playful antics, birdsong, nesting and sheer beauty of flight, even their squabbling - all add to the enjoyment of a garden.
To attract birds, the provision of food should be supplemented by choosing to plant and maintain safe places for roosting, feeding, and nesting.
Holistic garden design can incorporate ‘pricklies’ without risking injury for unwary passers-by.
The Hakea genus contains a wide variety of beautiful species, many of which are suitable for gardens, and some of which have both spectacular flowers and prickly foliage.
They grow in all manner of habitats, from harsh inland areas to tropical swamps and winter snow.
The genus was named after Baron von Hake, a patron of Botany. They are members of the Proteaceae family.
Many hakeas flower for an extended period over winter, providing nectar-feeding birds with food for survival and for building up reserves to prepare for the forthcoming breeding season.
Some have names such as needlewood, needlebush, pinbush, standback, spiked hakea, harsh hakea, hedgehog hakea. Don’t be deterred!
Hakea nodosa (yellow hakea) bears bright yellow flowers closely clasped to rigid stems.
It is a fast-growing, medium shrub with dense prickly foliage.
It grows well in a range of soil types, including sandy or clay loam, and soils subject to waterlogging. It occurs naturally in south-eastern South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania, usually in winter-wet, swampy locations.
Typical of many Australian plant species, most mature seed is retained on the plant for many years in large, knobby hard seed capsules.
The epithet ‘nodosa’ is from the Latin word nodosus meaning knotty, referring to the prominent knobs on the seed capsules.
There are two winged seeds per capsule, and these are usually released when the capsule is opened following fire or the death of the plant.
Heating the seed capsules in a slow oven (125 degrees Celsius) for about 1 Â½ hours will release the seeds.
H. nodosa is hardy in most conditions and does not require supplementary fertilizer.
It will reach a height of two to three metres and can be pruned to shape and to enhance bushiness.
This is an ideal plant for the novice gardener. Seed germinates readily.
It thrives in full sun or part shade. Choose a location away from walking paths, where the bright yellow flowers will light up even the dullest winter day, birds will find dinner and maybe also choose to build a nest.