Winter in the garden – with Amateur Gardener

Do you feel like adding some spark and life in your garden?

The plant that can fit this bill is the native Grevillea.

Grevilleas flower in many different hues from white, cream grey, yellow, orange and pink to red, making it a large spectrum to select from.

As well as having a huge colour selection the flowers can resemble either a spider or a toothbrush, and the plants range in height from the tall Silky Oak (Grevillea robusta) of 20 metres, to the ground hugging Grevillea “Poorinda Royal Mantle” laurifolia.

There must be a Grevillea suitable for a rambling native garden to a pretty cottage garden or even the more formal garden in a clipped hedge, so perhaps this month is the time to go and select one?

The Silky Oak grows into a tall tree making a statement with its upright trunk but there are also the shrubby ones with over 350 species of grevilleas, which encourage native birds.

For an extra bonus place a water bath nearby so the birds may feast then enjoy a splash and wash.

Grevilleas are sensitive to phosphorus so only use a specialised native fertiliser for the first couple of summers to help them establish.

Give a few top up drinks of water in the hot summer months and even once well-established, a summer watering can improve the length and profusion of the flowers.

As they flower for such a long time a gentle prune helps to continue the length of flowering time.

Never cut back severely to the woody stem as this can result in the plant dying.

Grevilleas grow well on the Adelaide Plains but are averse to high alkaline soils as well as needing good drainage.

They appreciate humus-rich soil, being aware to keep the area around the trunk clear.

If you’re thinking of planting a standard rose why not consider a standard Grevillea instead?

The Silky Oak is used as the root and stem and then other grevilleas are grafted, making them a long-lived year-round ornamental plant.

The Silky Oak is able to live to 100 years and once established these plants are very hardy.

The first few years the standard must be staked to enable a strong root system to develop.

To choose or buy these plants a trip to the Native Plant nursery at the Belair National Park is a good place to start.

One stunner is the Poorinda Royal Mantle ground cover that is grafted onto the Silky Oak, making a beautiful weeping grevillea.

With the school holidays this month an easy way to keep the children amused for a short while is to make a succulent garden.

An old tractor wheel centre, maybe a shallow dish or an old plough disc are great for this.

Collect some succulent cuttings and choose a container, making sure the container has good drainage.

Fill with some potting soil and plant the succulents, adding maybe a rock or two for interest and sprinkle some gravel to prevent the weeds growing or the birds scratching.

Water in with a weak seaweed solution and place in a sunny spot in the garden.

This is a fun and hands-on way to introduce the younger members of the family to the joy of gardening.

May you relish this month in the garden from the Amateur Gardener.

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