Winter Garden

During the cold winter months, we are all guilty of doing as little as we need to in the garden. Plunging temperatures and shorter days make it hard to muster motivation to get out there. All gardeners strive for vitality, colour and excitement in our garden environment and don’t often relate Australian Native plants with this aspect of gardening, but winter is their time to shine.

Native plants bring new dimensions into the garden in the form of striking foliage, textures and colour. They are almost all evergreen, inclined to grow all year round and have found an evolutionary advantage in blooming in a normally quiet time of year. Once they switch out of summer survival mode, they produce some genuinely remarkable blooms, attracting native birds, bees and butterflies in the vicinity.



Banksia are the ultimate foody tree for local wildlife when food is scarce in winter. They have large honey-scented spikes of gold, yellow, orange and red. They offer a different texture to the garden, the unique leaves, the distinctive flowers and their overall look shouts Australian. If space is an issue, a range of compact Banksia Spinulosa are available perfectly suited to pots; compact, flower profusely, they perform best in full sun and live for many years.


Grevillea explode with colour from April to October with some varieties flowering all year round. The spider-like or toothbrush-shaped flowers come in a great array of colours including red, pink, yellow, cream or orange and mixed combinations of all. The foliage texture is diverse and varieties range from 30cm for some ground cover species to over 9 metres tall for the tree species.


Eramophila comprises of at least 250 species, and occurs throughout Australia in all mainland states they boast many different flower and foliage colours. Flowering throughout the year, they are a fan favourite of bees and small birds and also offer great habitat for nesting.  Eremophila are extremely hardy, growing with very little water, are frost tolerant and cope well with strong winds. They are great for hedging as they respond well to pruning and shaping due to the dense foliage.

Hardenbergia – is a vigorous native climber flowering profusely through winter to spring with a sea of rich purple or white pea-like shaped flowers. The flower display creates a real focal point climbing up and draping over structures.

Birds use a range of plants for different reasons, whether it’s for shelter, food or nesting material they not only bring life to your garden in winter, they act as pollinators by moving pollen from flower to flower. There are many native plant varieties to encourage birdlife to your garden; they look for dense plantings for cover while nesting, prickly foliage, flowers inside the bush for smaller birds and grasses for nesting materials.

A backdrop of Hakea could provide a great small bird habitat, they are dense, prickly and the blooms run up the stems into the plant. Grevillea ticks all the boxes when it comes to attracting all forms of wildlife. A diverse group, rich with nectar, they produce flowers large and showy on larger shrubs and small and bright on lower bushes and groundcovers. Banksia flowers also produce an abundance of nectar suitable for birds and mammals; the foliage is dense providing an ideal habitat for nesting. Some other plants loved by our native wildlife are Leptospermum (tea tree), Correa, Eremophila and Hardenbergia all offering nesting, feeding and protection and all winter flowering.


Everyone loves a hotel, right? When the temperature drops, insects seek out a niche or cavity when they can’t make it back to the hive, to lay eggs or shelter during rest periods; an insect hotel in your garden is just what they need. Because we tend to be so neat and tidy in the garden, insect hotels take the place of dead branches, grasses and safe places to shelter or hatch their young. Native bees and insects aren’t fussy about what they look like so bling it up and make it a feature in your winter garden it’s bound to bring a smile on a bleak day.

A quiet spot in the garden where the winter sun pours into cannot be undervalued. Identify a spot in your garden where you can sit with a glass of red or a cuppa and a garden magazine to soak up as much vitamin D as possible. Make it pretty with bright pots of winter flowering colour such as pansy’s or cineraria, and a small paved area to keep the mud off your Ugg boots. Keep the wind at bay with mounted screens or tall growing shrubs such as Eremophila maculata or lily-pilly. Planted as a windbreak these can be left natural or clipped to form a wall of green if you like a more formal look.  A winter sun trap can entice you outdoors to a cute garden setting and a warm cosy throw to keep the chill off.

Pop into Barossa Mitre 10 for all your winter gardening needs and friendly advice.

Words and advice by Sandy Holding, Barossa Mitre 10 Garden Centre Manager.