One for the Birds!
Bird attracting plants in my garden are an absolute pure enjoyment and nothing delights me more than seeing the different bird species come and take refuge or feed from my hard work.
The Genus with many plants just for the birds are the Grevilleas. This group of plants named after Charles Francis Greville, co-founder of the Royal Horticultural Society, has some lovely soft, bird attracting, and hardy plants for landscaping.
Prickly plants mean a safe haven for birds, providing them with shelter to hide from predators. To attract birds to the garden you will need some specimens for protection, nesting, and food supply.
Todays Grevilleas provide both shelter and food but the prickly ones can be difficult to manage the maintenance. New hybrids and grafted specimens have introduced soft foliage and tougher root systems with spectacular floral displays and very low maintenance.
One such specimen which is a little bit different is Grevillea magnifica. Its grafted and you’ll find it in the nursery labeled ‘Pink pokers’. This specimen will also add some winter colour to the garden.
‘Pink pokers’ has beautifully fine, long dark green foliage which sends up magnificent naked canes that have a 10-20cm long flower on the end of the cane that just bobs in the breeze waiting for a nectar hungry bird to perch on it. The flowers are an iridescent pinky purple and often in multiples on each cane. The ‘Pink pokers’ will flower in late winter till late spring.
Sit back and enjoy the compact habit of the G.magnifica. It’s very self shaping, at maturity this evergreen shrub will be approximately 1.5-2m high and round. The floral canes can reach up to 1m high above the foliage, creating a spectacular sight. When flowering finishes tidy up your shrub by pruning the finished flower canes. The ‘Pink pokers’ don’t require fertilizing and are drought tolerant. They prefer a loamy sandy soil and struggle in clay environments or soils which are very wet.
If you already have this delightful specimen softwood cutting can be taken in late autumn. It’s ideal on mass as a colourful screen or informal hedge.
For those of you who enjoy a spot of twitching (bird watching) the pink pokers are a must have addition to your garden and wont disappoint you. Some other species to consider that provide bird refuge are Berberis thungbergii ‘atropurpurea’. This is a purple foliaged shrub for garden contrast that has barbs along the stems providing the birds with protection. Native grass plants like Bursaria spinosa will also provide protection and the Correa alba will provide nector to attract the honey eaters.
Ideally, the most bird-friendly backyard will provide several types of shelter so a large number of birds can be securely sheltered all year round. Cold and stormy weather is a really important time for birds to need our help. With winter fast approaching consider putting a nesting box in a tree and plant some species for shelter and food.