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Meet: Angus Stewart

Well known through his appearances on Gardening Australia, Angus Stewart has moved to Tasmania where he is experimenting and hybridising new and even better kangaroo paws.


What sparked your fascination with kangaroo paws?

They are one of Australia's iconic wildflowers and are instantly recognisable to pretty much every Australian gardener. They have every colour in the rainbow and there is even a black one. However, they have a deserved reputation as being somewhat erratic as garden plants, particularly the smaller species and hybrids, which makes them a perfect subject for me as a plant breeder. The challenge has been and continues to be in creating reliable garden plants across the whole continent and in across the entire available colour and height range.



Recent releases display flower colours thought unimaginable, what are you working on now?

Various shades of purple, blue and black are all there but I am really aiming to incorporate those colours into new varieties that are more adaptable and durable in the garden.
 

What are your top tips to grow kangaroo paws successfully in the home garden?

  • If you have less than perfect drainage and/or live in a warmer humid climate like Brisbane or Sydney, you will be guaranteed success if you choose taller varieties such as my Tall and Tough Landscape range. It includes Landscape Scarlet, Landscape Magenta, Landscape Tangerine, Landscape Violet, Landscape Lime and Landscape Gold.

  • If you are in love with the shorter varieties, some of which flower all year round (such as Bush Pearl) you will have much greater success growing in pots with a high-quality native potting mix.


 
  • Once flowers have faded, you need to remove not only the spent flower stem, but also what is left of the leaf fan that produced it. The old leaves end up turning black so cut them o‰ as well to make way for the new shoots that will give you next season's flowers. It is important to wear long trousers, long sleeves, gloves and eye protection when cutting back as the spent flowers may be shedding their little hairs that can irritate the skin and eyes.

  • If you are growing the tall and tough varieties, they will perform better with abundant water and a big handful of Neutrog Bush Tucker in the autumn after you cut them back. The best specimens I have ever seen of the tall varieties have been ones planted on a septic tank overflow trench where they were getting regular water and nutrients. This does not work for the shorter varieties unfortunately as they don't like the extra moisture.

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Author: INTERVIEW: SANDRA ROSS | IMAGES: BRENT WILSON AND ANGUS STEWART