Bursts of ‘Banksia’ brighten winter gardens

Banksia integrifolia. PHOTO: LINDA ROBERTSON
Banksia integrifolia. PHOTO: LINDA ROBERTSON
It can be hard to find a glimpse of colour in the garden during winter. Herbaceous plants are cut back and deciduous shrubs have been pruned, leaving a rather empty landscape. One group of plants we can rely on for winter interest is the Australian genus Banksia.

Banksia species are popular garden plants, loved for their architectural flower spikes and distinctive cones. Ranging from low-growing shrubs to tall trees, they all bring colour and life into a winter garden. Displays of nectar rich flowers are abundant from autumn all the way into spring.

With these nectar-rich flowers come hordes of birds, especially the tui. Our native nectar-feeding birds do not seem to care if food comes from natives or exotics. They will gratefully feed on Australian shrubs as other food sources become scarce.

Growing up to 20m, the hardy Banksia integrifolia stands tall in the Australian borders of the Dunedin Botanic Garden and produces an abundance of lemon-yellow flowers throughout autumn and winter. Banksia ‘‘Giant Candles’’, with its dramatic displays of orange flowers spiking up to 40cm tall, is another favourite treat for birds.

Banksia species will thrive in a sunny, open position. Luckily for Dunedin, there are many Banksia species that are well suited to New Zealand’s southern climate. These species are tolerant of a range of soil types and hardy to the cold, making them an easy choice for home gardeners.

See the winter displays of Banksia in the Australian borders around the aviary at the botanic garden.

Garden Life is produced by the Dunedin Botanic Garden.

For further information contact Kyla Mathewson.

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