New England gardening: Aussie favourites

Spectacular: Grevillea “Bonfire” has beautiful foliage and flowers that adds colour to any garden.
Spectacular: Grevillea “Bonfire” has beautiful foliage and flowers that adds colour to any garden.

It is probably safe to say that the bottlebrushes (callistemons) and grevilleas are the best known and most widely cultivated native plants. The grevilleas come in a range of heights, foliage and flower colours and shapes.

There are well over 250 grevillea species. Because they are rather promiscuous plants they readily cross pollinate. This has given rise to numerous hybrids.

Because there are so many varieties to choose from there is a grevillea for every horticultural situation.

This time we will concentrate on taller varieties that exceed two metres in height. They could be cultivated in hedges, as screens, stand alone specimens or as background plants in shrubberies.

All the varieties described are surviving and thriving in local gardens. As a bonus their flowers are rich in nectar and provide a food source for honeyeaters.

Grevillea “Apricot Glow” is form of Grevillea olivacea, a native of Western Australia. “Apricot Glow” will reach a height of three metres with a spread of two metres. The oval leaves are similar in shape and colour to those of the exotic olive.

There are well over 250 grevillea species.

The flowers are apricot in colour and held in spider-like clusters. Flowering extends from winter to spring when plants become covered in colourful blooms. Light pruning, after flowering, will ensure that plants do not become straggly.

Grevillea “Bonfire” is a hybrid that exceeds two metres in height. The leaves are dark green and narrowly divided. New growth has a bronze colour.

Large clusters of coral read flowers are carried above the foliage for many months. Honeyeaters attend the blooms constantly. “Bonfire” is grown in the USA where the flowers attract hummingbirds.

Grevillea “Bonfire” is a spectacular plant. Foliage and flowers are attractive features.

An alternate name is Grevillea “Bon Accord”.

Grevillea arenaria reaches a height of three to four metres. The foliage is dense and the leaves are light green, soft with a velvety feel. Flowers may be pink, red, or orange with a green or yellow base. The blooms are hidden by the foliage but honeyeaters have no trouble finding them. 

This is one grevillea that is grown mainly for its foliage which could be used in cut flower arrangements.

Grevillea “Winpara Gem” is another hybrid that grows to a height of four metres. Grey-green leaves are lobed with four or five segments. Buds, in large clusters, are pink that open to deep red flowers that age to orange. They appear on older wood from autumn to spring.

This is a spectacular hybrid with its large, colourful blooms.

Grevillea wilkinsonii is a very rare species from southern NSW and is two metres tall with a similar spread.

The leaves are 17 centimetres long, three centimetres wide, dark green above, silvery-white below and with toothed margins.

The flower heads are toothbrush-shaped and an unusual purplish-pink colour. Flowering occurs in late spring to early summer. Foliage and flowers are attractive features.

Prune lightly after flowering to encourage fresh growth and bounteous blooms.

These are just a few tall grevilleas that will bring colour and the birds to your domestic landscape.