GARDENING WITH NEIL: What will the topic be this week?
Have you noticed more birds in the garden of late? Is it that we are experiencing some of the best winter weather in years or is it that some gardens are providing more to attract birds to the garden?
There are hundreds of plants available to the home gardener these days that will attract large numbers of birds.
For most people, this would immediately bring to mind a variety of plants such as the nectar-laden bottlebrushes or one of my favourites, the grevillea.
There could not be a more perfect plant species to create a protective bird haven in your own backyard.
A question always asked is what are the best grevilleas for a winter flowering garden to attract birds to the garden. The following are some of the grevilleas I have seen in full flower during my walks this last week.
Grevillea Austraflora Canterbury Gold is a fast growing semi-prostrate shrub 50cm x 2-3m across with soft green foliage. Yellow claw flowers appear all year round. It requires a sunny well-drained position and is quite hardy. It is also attractive to honeyeaters.
Grevillea Evelyn's Coronet is a dense small shrub with both pink and grey flowers. These woolly flowers are massed on the shrub all year. Growing to 2m high, its shape will be enhanced by judicious pruning.
Grevillea Fireworks is one of the hardiest small grevilleas for exposed conditions. Masses of orange and red spider flowers cover the plant during winter and spring. Best suited to well-drained soils, Grevillea Fireworks grows to 1m high by 1m wide.
Grevillea Superb is a small growing shrub similar to Grevillea Robyn Gordon in growth and habit but has orangey apricot flowers. It requires a sunny well-drained position and is very attractive and hardy. It attracts honeyeaters and is suitable for use as a low hedge or screen growing to maximum height of 1.5m.
Grevillea Orange Marmalade is one of the hardest grevilleas for local gardens. It produces terminal heads of orange flowers in spring and summer that contrast well with the plant's attractive lime green leaves. It can be a useful plant for screening or providing a visual break and it will tolerate radical pruning.
Grevillea Pink Surprise is a large evergreen shrub with shiny green fern-like foliage that is both frost and wind tolerant plus hardy to drought once established. Throughout the year it has large eye-catching flower spikes of pink and cream up to 15cm long that are attractive to honeyeaters. Grevillea Pink Surprise prefers a sunny well drained position and will make a large visual screen.
Grevillea venusta or Byfield Grevillea is a plant our family always take pride in seeing growing in gardens around the nation as our family's nursery was the first nursery to sell these plants commercially. This grevillea is a medium very dense shrub 3-4m x 2-3m with broad shiny, bright green leaves and coppery new growth. Flowers of orange and green 8cm long appear during autumn and winter. It requires a sunny or lightly shaded position in a well-drained area. It is a very useful screen plant and provides something unique with its flowers.
Grevillea Winpara Gold is fast growing bushy, erect shrub with fine, soft dark green leaves which are silvery beneath. It bears spider flowers of yellow with pink stamens most of the year, with the most profuse flowering in winter. Grevillea Winpara Gold is frost hardy and requires little water once established.
- Water: Provide a constant source of water, such as a pond, birdbath or dripping tap into a bowl.
- Food: Provide a variety of native trees and bushes that become a suitable food source.
- Protection: Never let your cat roam the garden and actively discourage neighbour's cats from entering your garden.
- Safety: Provide a safe environment for the birds by not using any poisons like snail bait in your garden.