Patriotic plants for your garden
Scaevola Aussie Spirit

Embrace all things Australian with plants specifically bred for tough conditions. We asked local gardening experts to name their favourite Aussie natives.

1. Scaevola Aussie Spirit (Scaevola crassifolia)

Naming it one of his favourite plants, Clayton Rennie, of Benara Nurseries, said the Scaevola Aussie Spirit was a robust and hardy semi-woody shrub that grew to a metre or so tall.

"The leaves are fleshy and lightly toothed and pretty blue flowers appear in spring and summer," he said.

"In the true Aussie spirit, this plant is hardy, waterwise and will perform extremely well in coastal and dry inland conditions."

2. Big Red (Syzygium)

"We adorn our cars and drape our bodies in all things Aussie to celebrate Australia Day; why not extend our patriotism into the garden," Mr Rennie said.

He said his top pick, the Big Red, had more features than a new Commodore.

"With large glossy leaves, the new growth produces the darkest crimson foliage available," he said.

Along with being frost hardy and dry tolerant, the plant made a perfect addition to any garden because it could be grown as a hedge, topiary or pot specimen.

White flowers bloomed over summer followed by edible berries, which would help attract native birds to the garden.

3. Kangaroo Paw (Anigozanthos)

True Blue Landscapes owner-operator Danny Muley couldn't list his favourite Aussie plants without mentioning the kangaroo paw.

Available in a range of colours, from the traditional red and yellow to black, salmon pink and green varieties, he said its striking flowers through spring and autumn made it good for mass and border plantings.

4. Grass Tree (Xanthorrhoea)

Mr Muley said his top pick would have to be the grass tree.

"Native to the South West of WA, the grass tree makes a great feature plant with its black trunk and unusual, bright green leaves," he said.

This variety would also thrive once it has been burnt by fire. "They need fire to survive and seed."

5. Banksia

Sue Torlach, of Wild About Gardens, said banksias were her personal favourite but were often overlooked.

"If banksias came from overseas everyone would want one but because they are local they are often overlooked," she said.

"With their complex flowers and strong, interesting leaves, banksias make a striking feature plant."

She suggested Banksia grandis, also known as bull banksia, which has big green flowers, serrated leaves and forms a shapely small tree.

6. Albany Woolly Bush (Adenanthos sericeus)

Nuts About Natives owner Ben Croxford said the Albany woolly bush topped his list of iconic Aussie plants.

"The Albany woolly bush is well adapted to our sandy soils," he said.

"I like it because it is waterwise but responds very well to supplementary irrigation, grows quickly and has a tall, upright form, making it ideal for screening."

"The foliage is also soft and lush, differentiating it from many other natives, and it responds very well to pruning making it suitable for hedging or pruning, away from a path or building."

7. Swan River Pea (Brachysema lanceolatum)

This low-growing native shrub has glossy green leaves with silvery undersides, according to Jaissen Pouw-Bray, of online plant retailer plants4perth.com.au, with red flowers appearing among the foliage from late winter to spring.

"This is one of my top picks for its hardiness and waterwise traits, plus its ability to produce beautiful flowers and attract native fauna into your garden," Mr Pouw-Bray said.

8. Hakeas

"Hakeas are quite spectacular - they attract birds when they flower and are drought tolerant," Ms Torlach said.

Adaptable to sun, shade and most soil types, hakeas were a versatile plant that adapted to a number of situations.

"Hakea multilineata is a useful screening plant because it is particularly quick growing and hardy, while the local Hakea petiolaris has broad silver leaves and makes a striking feature plant."

9. Snake Bush (Hemiandra pungens)

An attractive groundcover, the snake bush has prickly foliage with attractive lilac or white flowers.

Australian Native Nurseries Group owner Nancy Scade said the plant would grow in full sun to dappled shade, was ultra tough and would not require irrigation once established.

"If they are planted in early winter from square-tube stock size they may never have to be watered because they will be well established by the following summer, provided they have been planted correctly and well mulched," she said.

10. Dryandras

Low, dome-shaped dryandras are uniquely West Australian, according to Mr Croxford.

They were relatively rare in cultivation but were well adapted to low-nutrient, free-draining soils.

"Although these plants have beautiful flowers, similar to those of proteas, they are generally difficult to see because they are hidden inside the foliage where small birds, native honey possums and a range of native insects safely feed on the nectar they provide," he said.

"The highlight of these plants is their beautiful foliage and neat dome-shaped form, making them a beautiful, low-maintenance addition to the garden."

The West Australian

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