Hit or miss for kangaroo paw
The popular kangaroo paw, belonging to the genus Anigozanthos, is a good example of how the Trial Garden tested different varieties to guide the state’s gardeners.
“Because Anigozanthos is a Western Australian (WA) genus, there are varying conditions between WA and NSW that result in some species having ink spots, or fungal disease, and lack of vigour due to the humidity and rainfall,” Kate said.
“However, there are many new cultivars being released onto the market that are more disease resistant and can be successfully grown in Sydney,” she said.
Kate said the vibrant red-coloured Bush Gem Princess, which grows well in Sydney, and the grey-coloured Bush Gem Zest, which does not perform as well, were examples of how different varieties of kangaroo paws adapted to local conditions.
Putting plants to the test
The talented horticultural team at the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney trials several cultivars at the same time, which helps with a more visual comparison in the field. However, all trial plants are judged by the same criteria, depending on whether they are annuals, edibles or perennials.
These factors include habit, length of flowering, colour, presence of pest and disease, weeks to harvest and yield. Different plants will prefer and thrive in different conditions, just as different areas of Sydney and NSW, will have different soil, water and levels of exposure to the weather.