There’s A Honeyeater In My Orange Marmalade

MarcusWithout exaggeration, every moment of every day there are birds in my grevillea patch. At work when I look out the window I can see a nesting yellow honeyeater in a Kay Williams grevillea.  It’s amazing the life grevilleas bring to a garden.  I’m not talking about a forest of plants, just one or two are enough to attract native honey eaters when they are in flower.

Grevilleas are a fantastic source of nectar for birds. In fact some flowers can be so laden with sweet nectar that it will drip from the flowers early in the morning, and this is a good opportunity to sample some of the sugary syrup yourself just as Aborigines have done for centuries.

Naturally, other flowering plants can also be used to attract birds, but none come close to the success of grevilleas. They have co-evolved with our native nectar-feeding birds and are perfect partners. The grevilleas provide food for the birds in the form of rich nectar, and in return the birds transport pollen from one flower to the next. It’s so simple yet effective.

Humans benefit in two ways – we enjoy providing a buffet for our native feathered friends, watching their antics as they dine, and the colourful splash they bring to the garden.  Grevillea flowers come in a large range of colours and forms, decorating and adding allure to any garden.

There are a large number of grevilleas available that do well in the tropics as long as you have a well-drained spot to grow them in. The traditional cultivars come with names as colourful as their flowers. Strawberry blonde, orange marmalade, pink surprise, moonlight, honey gem and misty pink, just to name a few. There are also wild grevillea species such as shiressii, venusta, formosa and pteridifolia, which may be a little difficult to find in most nurseries, but are definitely worth searching for. Surprisingly even Yuruga Nursery may not have these species all of the time so you need to be diligent if you’re after something very special.

So there you have it, it’s easy to attract native birds to your garden – simply plant a couple of grevilleas. You’ll be surprised by the number of native birds that will visit while they are in flower.

Happy gardening.

Marcus Achatz
Yuruga Nursery

(Published in Cairns City Life magazine, February 2008)