Color me curious. Look at this sculpturally sumptuous ornament of scarlet surrealness! It almost reminds me of some sort of crazy curling brush or an eccentrically colored cuddly echidna. Check out all those curvaceous curlycues...what in the world?! Let me introduce you to the evergreen shrub/tree known as Hakea archaeoides. It comes to us from Australia, is a cousin of the Grevillea genus, and is a member of the Protea family. Hakea, pronounced hey-kee-uh, which are not seen so much in cultivation, usually sport fairly noticeable flowers but in the case of Hakea archaeoides they are extraordinary.
The cone-like flowers present themselves in spring and summer displaying supercool scarlet styles that extend from glowingly golden perianths. They look like intricately designed chandeliers of color. The perianths, at the base of the red styles, serve as little honey pots that hold a sweet store of nectar that hummingbirds and bees adore. In my opinion, a truly delicious design!
Hakea archaeoides grows up to 18 feet tall and 12 feet wide if left to its own devices. However, Hakea don't mind some tip pruning, so if you're vigilant, you could keep Hakea archaeoides reined in a bit. It's extremely cool as a screening shrub or specimen small tree because it seems very unassuming with its handsomely elliptical, narrow green, pinstriped foliage, and calmingly mottled elephant-like trunk(s). Then when spring comes...BAM!...it produces outrageous ornaments of floral fantasy. Added bonus...new stem growth appears as reddish stems sprouting luxurious new foliage blushed in gorgeous bronze tones.
Hakea archaeoides likes part sun situations, well-draining average to poor soil, regular water, becomes drought tolerant once established, and is hardy down to 25 degrees fahrenheit/-3 degrees celsius. Oh, and since it's in the Protea family it doesn't like to be fertilized. Fertilizer can damage or kill this plant. So why not, like the athletic shoe ad says, think different when it comes to what you plant in your garden. Yeah, there are Japanese Maples and Elm trees but why not go all punk rock on your garden and get the neighbors talking about what's growing next door. Something like a Hakea would certainly make things more interesting. Go on then...find one...plant it. You know you want to.