The “new” Grevilleas…

grevillea rosemarianus 2

No, they aren’t really new at all but the wide variety of shapes, sizes and flower color in the genus Grevillea has certainly been more visible in American garden centers in the past decade as the prominence of Australian plants surges in gardens where climate and cultural conditions favor the so-called Mediterranean and sub-tropical plant families.

Grevillea is a diverse genus of over 300 species of evergreen flowering plants native to Australia, New Guinea, New Caledonia and other eastern Indonesian islands. The genus is named for Charles Francis Greville who sat in the British House of Commons from 1774 to 1790. He was a very close friend of Sir Joseph Banks, one of the organizers of the Society for Improvement of Horticulture, a precursor to the Royal Horticultural Society.

In my first iteration as a California gardener in the 1970s about the only Grevillea commonly used in Central Valley landscapes was Grevillea ‘Noellii’, a fast growing prickly shrub with fine foliage and with intricate dark pink flowers. For my minuscule first home lot its mature size of 3-6 feet tall and wide was just too overwhelming. I can’t say in the ensuing 40 years that I had thought much about Grevilleas until we returned to California in 2008 and I started seeing them popping up with great diversity in garden centers, especially in very temperate Southern California. Short or tall, upright, mounding or almost prostrate, there seems to be one for almost any garden situation as long as you have a sunny spot with good drainage. They are hardy mostly and 20 degrees C and drought tolerant. The only quirk of note is their intolerance to phosphorus–thus the need to be cautious with fertilizers.

In our seemingly never-ending lawn removal/bed replanting project I have added a few different species and cultivars of Grevillea. One of the first selections was Grevillea rosemarinifolia, pictured above, which I tucked under the loose canopy of a huge weeping juniper anchoring a spot of ground between our driveway and our side yard fencing. With rosemary like foliage, this species will mound up with layers of airy, nodding branches. As we periodically tidy up the juniper, more space for its eventual 4 foot height is made. Even with the dappled shade produced by the juniper’s branches, this area is in full on southwestern sun all day and gets precious little irrigation. Check out This eagle has finally landed… for some pics at the end of the post of this juniper in all its tree-like glory!

Planted in very late 2017 from a 4 inch pot this selection has proved to be a robust but well-behaved garden dweller, covered now with pinky red buds ready to burst into bloom.

grevillea rosemarianus 1

My back garden holding area still has a few “new” Grevillea waiting for their permanent homes to be ready and I am on the lookout for additional  ones to try. I am most excited about a little gal called ‘Pink Midget’ which will occupy a spot along the walk from my mailbox to my front door. I can’t wait to see the hummers fighting over a spot at their new nectar bar!

 

 

2 thoughts on “The “new” Grevilleas…

  1. My colleague and I were just talking about them today. He is almost twenty years younger than I am, so had always known that there a few grevilleas. Of course, more have become available over the years. When I was in School, there were only two, Grevillea robusta and Grevillea ‘Noellii’. I happen to be allergic to Grevillea ‘Noellii’ and am probably allergic to the others as well. I never wanted to find out. I think that they are one of the genera that really should be more popular in california than it is so far.

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    1. I really think they are up and coming–especially in Southern CA. I follow several bloggers in LA and Orange County and am always seeing close-up photos of the almost insect like blooms in their posts. I think their foliage is a nice contrast to the never-end march of medium green, small oval or round leafed evergreens which anchor gardens everywhere. While still not prominent in Central Valley garden centers (except for the old stand-by ‘Noellii’) I see many different offerings in coastal and Bay Area shops in addition to down south. I’ll let you know how mine fare. Thanks for the heads up about the possible allergy as I had not seen than in my written resources. My skin is touchy with verbena and lantana already .

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