Mid November is one of my favourite times in my native garden because that’s when my tall kangaroo paws are just starting to flower.
Some of these are hybrids but they all come back to my favourite species kangaroo paw, which is Anigozanthos flavidus.
I often get comments from people that they find kangaroo paws hard to grow and I think the reason for that is that the nursery industry has gravitated towards the smaller varieties of hybrid kangaroo paws. I’m just wandering about my garden now where I have a collection of all the different colour forms of A. Kangaroo paws are some of the most iconic Australian native plants, much loved for their clusters of clawlike flowers that open from the furry, tactile buds. Kangaroo paws are native to Western Australia where they are used to long dry summers and cooler wet winters.
Kangaroo paws are now found in gardens in most temperate parts of the world and can even be used for indoor colour in cold places.
Much breeding work has been carried out in the last few decades to develop hardier and stronger varieties of kangaroo paws with attractive leaves and flowers. If you want to try growing kangaroo paws from seed, Yates has a Kangaroo Paw Mix in its packet seed range. Feed kangaroo paws with a native plant fertiliser such as Garden Gold or Acticote for Natives. Hanging baskets look wonderful decorating verandahs and porches, or softening other garden structures.

Garden fashions come in cycles and there's no doubt that, right now, dahlias are back in vogue. The sight and scents of sweet peas always seem to transport adults back to the sun-drenched gardens of their childhood. While it's true that daylilies are some of the toughest of plants, they'll be much better performers if they're given some basic good care. Their long, nearly-unpronounceable name ends in ‘mum’ and their flowering coincides with Mother’s Day.
While the experts keep telling us that common geraniums are really pelargoniums, most of us take no notice. Although they originated in South America, tibouchinas have become very much part of the Australian garden. Anzac Day this year will be a particularly poignant occasion as it will be 100 years since the start of World War 1. There are hundreds of species of grevilleas growing in an incredibly wide range of natural habitats around Australia.
With their evergreen good looks and refined, white, stunningly perfumed flowers, Gardenias are a favourite with Australian gardeners. There’s all the excitement of spring and the wonderful spring-flowering of the shrubs and herbaceous plants but at this time of year, my garden is a sea of red, orange, gold and yellow from tall kangaroo paws. This remarkable species, out of the 12 wild species of kangaroo paws, grows in an entirely different habitat.

Often they do involve the tall, species Anigozanthos flavidus but they’re crossed with the smaller growing species like the cat’s paw, Anigozanthos humilis, and the smaller species tend to be fairly short-lived plants in the wild and that also translates to the performance of their hybrids. A simple thing you can do in your own backyard is to make a remembrance planting to mark this anniversary. They’re what I would call a short-lived perennial plant but the nursery industry has gravitated towards them because those smaller hybrid varieties are much easier to transport and hold in nurseries. But Anigozanthos flavidus is a plant that can be found from the Margaret River area down to Albany in the south of Western Australia and I’ve often seen it growing in profusion, in big stands along the roadsides where it colonises, and occasionally I’ve seen it growing in drains full of water so it can survive temporary inundation which is death to most kangaroo paws.
You can fit a lot more on the trucks that transport them around the country, and they tend not to blow over like the taller varieties which can be top-heavy.
I think it’s unfortunate that gardeners don’t get to see these taller varieties in the nursery because they are what I would describe as long-lived perennials, along the lines of agapanthus.
For those gardeners who have tried kangaroo paws and found them short-lived, I would highly recommend trying some of the taller varieties and to also explore some of the colour forms of the tall kangaroo paw species, Anigozanthos flavidus.

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