By Deryn Thorpe – This story appeared in Habitat in The West Australian on August 23
Many Australian plants put on their most spectacular show in late winter, and fewer are more flamboyant than gorgeous grevilleas.
It’s the best time to visit nurseries to choose a favourite as they have the biggest range available now while they are in flower.
When choosing a Grevillea for your garden consider their place of origin. Once established, some of the WA varieties need only occasional summer watering while the flamboyant tropical hybrids, which originate in eastern Australia, have bigger blooms but are less drought tolerant.
All have pretty nectar-filled flowers that attract a myriad of small nectar-eating birds and animals to the garden.
Forms include groundcovers, small and medium shrubs and big shrubs that can be form pruned to grow as small trees.
Some nurseries will also have a limited quantity of standard forms, which are plants grafted onto the top of a long trunk, which add structure to formal garden designs.
One of my favourites is Grevillea olivacea which is endemic to SWWA and available with small apricot, yellow or red flowers. It blooms in winter and spring and is a tough, medium-sized shrub to 4m tall. Its olive-like leaves provide good screening and it is suitable for all soil types.
For coastal gardens few small shrubs are better than the grey-green leafed spider net Grevillea (Grevillea thelmanniana), which is also available in a prostrate form, or Grevillea preissii which are both native to SWWA and have small red flowers and lacy foliage.
However, for showy brilliance look for the tropical hybrids like Grevillea Robyn Gordon which is one of the oldest and best loved varieties. It grows to about 1.5m tall and wide with red flowers throughout the year. Grevillea Superb is similar but has apricot-red flowers.
If you want to add some height look out for Grevillea Moonlight which can be grown as a small tree to about 5m and has intricate, toothbrush-like, pale lemon flowers.
Deryn Thorpe is an award winning Perth writer. She occupies herself as a journalist, a garden consultant, PR person and marketer. She now lends her considerable talent to producing regular pieces for the Habitat section on the West Australian newspaper.