Gardeners living in mild Mediterranean climates worldwide can readily grow many Australian native plants to bring a touch of "Oz" to the landscape. Catchy named plants, often with floral shapes not seen on plants native to other areas of the world, can really make designing an Aussie-themed garden a real treat. Grow these plants in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 9 through 11, where winter frosts don't occur.
Among the floral emblems of Australian states is the kangaroo paw (Anigozanthos spp.) so named because of its fuzzy flowers with claw-like lobes on the floral tubes. They typically flower in spring and early summer, and provide a very Australian feel to a garden. Cat's paws are the shorter growing and smaller flowering cousins to the taller kangaroo paws.
Aussies call them wattles, but others may recognize them better as golden mimosa or acacias. In winter and spring, these feathery leaved shrubs and trees display golden clusters of flowers that are no less than spectacular, especially the species Acacia dealbata, Acacia baileyana, Acacia paradoxa and Acacia drummondii.
Wispy and looking like a scrawny rosemary shrub, the Geraldton wax (Chamelaucium uncinatum) blooms with small, nectar-rich and sweetly fragrant flowers in early spring. You might recognize these flowers, which are popular as airy filler sprigs in cut flower arrangements.
Swan River Daisy
Native to the area around Perth, Western Australia, is the short-lived dainty perennial Swan River daisy (Brachyscome iberidifolia). This plant is also grown as a summer annual in cold winter regions. The short plants bloom year-round if frost never threatens, smiling with tiny blue, lavender or white blossoms.
Fairy Fan Flower
The fairy fan flower (Scaevola aemula), sometimes called monkey paws, is popular as a hanging basket annual around the temperate-climate world. Its spreading stems bear pale blue-violet, pink or white blossoms, and work nicely as a ground cover in an Australian garden setting.
Choose any species or ornamental variety of bottlebrush (Callistemon spp.) for the Australian garden. Choose the taller bottlebrushes to act as screens or hedges, while the low, prostrate types are superb as ground covers. The red, scarlet or magenta-pink flowers occur in spring and summer, and attract nectar-loving birds and bees. The flower clusters of the bottke brush truly look like the bristly kitchen utensils used to scour tall glasses.
Royalty in the world of Australia plants, any species of banksia (Banksia spp.) would bring glory and accolades. Depending on species, the evergreen foliage ranges from thin and heather-like (Banksia ericifolia) to large and ornately zig-zagged (Banksia baxteri). Usually blooming in the heat of summer and autumn, banksia trees or shrubs display a plump, pinecone, or bristle-like flower cluster on the tips of branches in colors from cream, silvery blue to yellow, rusty orange or red.
Over 200 species of grevillea shrubs and trees (Grevillea spp.) hail from Australia. Their flowers, which look like clusters of spiders or cat whiskers, range in color from red and pink to white and yellow. Grow them as specimen plants in a mixed border, or taller selections as an informal hedge or screen.