Plant Guide

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Coastal

echium-candicans

Echium candicans

pride of Madeira

Soft-wooded evergreen shrub with a sprawling habit, native to the Canary Islands and Madeira. Hairy, grey-green leaves to 20 cm long, arranged in whorls along the stems. Smaller leaves on flowering stems. Large 20-40 cm long spikes of sapphire to violet blue flowers with crimson stamens during late winter and early spring. Usually perennial, but may behave as a biennial, forming rosettes of leaves in the first year, producing flowers in the second year, and dying after flowering. Attracts bees and butterflies.

Synonym: Echium fastuosum

Prefers a sunny position in well-drained soil. Remove dead flowers and prune after flowering to keep compact. Tolerant of light frosts. Grows well in dry, exposed, and coastal conditions. 

Striking feature plant when in flower. Excellent choice for flower display in dry, sandy, seaside gardens.

Elaeagnus pungens 'Maculata'

Elaeagnus pungens 'Maculata'

variegated silverberry

Evergreen variegated shrub, native to Japan. Main branches spiny and more or less horizontal and arching. Copper coloured twigs. Oval leaves shiny green and yellow above, dull grey beneath with small brown glandular dots. Insignificant, but very fragrant flowers in autumn. Fast growing and tough: prefers full sun, but tolerates a wide range of conditions.

erigeron-karvinskianus

Erigeron karvinskianus

Mexican daisy, Santa Barbara daisy, Latin American fleabane, seaside daisy

Fine-textured, mound-forming, evergreen perennial, native to Mexico, Venezuela, and Central America. Flowers profusely from spring to autumn, and all year round in mild climates. Thin, wiry stems with small narrow leaves, 1-4 cm long, three-lobed or without lobes. Yellow-centered, daisy-like flowers, 2 cm across, with white petals, turning pink with age. Naturalised in many parts of the world. Regarded as an unwanted, invasive weed in several countries, including New Zealand, Portugal, and New Caledonia.

Synonym: Erigeron mucronatus

Happiest in full sun or partial shade, and any well-drained soil. Copes with full shade, but lacks vigor and produces fewer flowers. Tolerates moderate frosts, coastal conditions, and drought once established. Self-seeds. If you wish to propagate this plant from an existing one, all you need to do is place a pot with potting mix next to the existing plant, and Erigeron karvinskianus will do the rest.

Versatile ground cover plant that grows almost anywhere, and flowers during most of the year. Particularly suited to cottage-style gardens, but also fits in beautifully with other themes, adding a delicate, somewhat playful touch to formal settings.

erythrina-sykesii

Erythrina x sykesii

coral tree, flame tree, Australian coral tree

Large deciduous or semi-deciduous tree of uncertain hybrid parentage (involving Australian native Erythrina species), with a short trunk and a relatively open canopy of ascending branches with rose-like thorns. Named after William Sykes, a New Zealand botanist. Compound leaves with three, heart-shaped, mid green leaflets, 7-20 cm long, 7-12 cm wide.  Bright scarlet flowers to about 6 cm long, in clusters at the tips of bare branches in late winter and early spring. Has become invasive in parts of Australia, where it is difficult to control since it grows easily from root segments. branches and clippings.

Prefers a position in full sun and moist soil. Can adapt to dry areas. Withstands coastal conditions, but needs wind protection. Branches are quite brittle and easily snap off during windy days. Tolerates light frosts to about -7 deg C. 

Magnificent specimen tree, in particular during winter and early spring when the canopy of bare branches is covered with masses of large, vibrant orange  flower clusters.

escallonia-apple-blossom

Escallonia 'Apple Blossom'

Evergreen shrub with glossy, dark green, finely toothed foliage and pale pink with white, 1 cm wide flowers for 1-2 months from early summer. Attracts bees.

Escallonia 'Apple Blossom' prefers a sunny or partially shaded position in any well-draining soil. Prune to keep compact. Suitable for coastal gardens. Responds well to trimming. Frost hardy to about -12 deg. Celsius. Drought tolerant once established. Usually disease free, but may get brown scale.

Very pretty plant when in flower, but also a lovely foliage plant. Great choice for a fine-textured hedge. Not as vigorous as most other Escallonia hybrids, so requires less frequent pruning to maintain as a hedge. When intending to grow Escallonia 'Apple Blossom' as a single specimen, plant it towards the back of a border. The glossy dark green foliage is a beautiful foil for other flowering plants.

euryops-pectinatus

Euryops pectinatus

golden daisy bush, grey-haired euryops

Evergreen bushy shrub in the daisy family, native to South Africa. Finely divided grey-green, downy foliage. Silvery grey buds on white, downy stems, open to yellow daisies, to 6 cm across. Flowers virtually all year round in warmer climates.

Very versatile, unfussy plant. Prefers a position in full sun and well-draining soil, but tolerates a wide range of conditions, including drought and coastal exposure. Hardy to -120C. 

Prune to maintain size and shape. Great for winter colour. Mainly grown for its attractive flowers, but also useful as a beautiful grey green foliage plant that can be trimmed to a compact ball or bun shape or used as a hedge.

geranium-rozanne

Geranium Rozanne

Perennial with deeply cut leaves and masses of blue-violet flowers from spring until well into autumn. Individual flowers are about 5-7 cm across. Winter-dormant. Forms a wide-spreading, dense mound. 

Grows well in full sun or partial shade. Any reasonable soil, including sandy and clay soils. Can handle some drought, and also copes well with occasionally very wet soils. A trim every now and then may be required to keep the plant compact. Geranium 'Rozanne' grows vigorously, but will not become invasive. Generally pest and disease-free. Does not self-seed. Frost-hardy.

Fantastic groundcover with an incredibly long flowering season. Very easy to grow. Looks fabulous with yellows and oranges, or with purple flowers like those of Liriope muscari. 

grevillea-robusta

Grevillea robusta

silky oak, silk oak, Australian silver oak

Large evergreen tree in the Proteaceae family, native to Australia, with a pyramidal to oval crown and fern-like foliage. Golden orange flowers, arranged in 8-16 cm long, bottlebrush-like racemes, on mature trees in spring-summer. Mid to dark green, divided leaves to about 30 cm long, with silky, silvery white undersides. Widely planted for timber, shelter, and ornamental purposes. Naturalised in many regions of the world. Has become invasive in some areas, such as Hawaii, Brazil, South Africa, and parts of Australlia, where it competes with the indigenous vegetation. Contains toxins. Leaves may cause skin irritation, and can inhibit establishment of other plant species. Attracts nectar-feeding birds.

Prefers a sunny position in any well-drained, slightly acidic soil. Tolerates rather poor soils. Frost-tender when young, hardy to about -8 0C when mature. Reasonably drought tolerant once established. Suitable for coastal areas with protection from persistent, strong winds.

Beautiful tree when in flower, but needs plenty of space. It is not a tidy tree and produces quite a large amount of litter, in particular in winter just before the new leaves emerge. Young plants can be used as indoor foliage plants.

griselinia-littoralis

Griselinia littoralis

kapuka, papauma, broadleaf

Glossy bright green oval leaves 5 to 10 cm long and to 5 cm wide. Panicles of very tiny greenish flowers in spring. Occurs in forests throughout New Zealand. Grows as a tree up to 15 m high in nature, but is generally grown as a shrub or hedge in garden situations and maintained at a height of 1.5 to 4 m.

Will grow in a wide range of conditions. Prefers a sunny position, but also tolerates shade. Intolerant of excessively wet sites. Suitable for exposed areas. Quite drought tolerant once established. To keep the plant compact, prune once a year, preferably with secateurs (as opposed to pruning shears).  Hardy to -12 0C.

The fresh green foliage of Griselinia littoralis combines beautifully with divaricating plants such as Muehlenbeckia astonii, with flax-like plants and with taller grasses such as Chionochloa flavicans. Forms a good background for feature plantings, and perfect as a hedge.

griselinia-lucida

Griselinia lucida

puka, akapuka

Evergreen plant with large, glossy foliage, endemic to New Zealand where it is found in forests and coastal areas. Grows well as a shrub or tree in cultivation, but in its natural habitat, Griselinia lucida commences life as an epiphyte, perched high in tall trees, sending roots towards the ground. These roots can become quite thick and deeply furrowed. Eventually the plant may establish itself as an independent plant, but it usually  remains epiphytic and collapses when the host plant dies. The ovate to oblong leaves are thick and leathery, about 10-18 cm long and 4-10 cm wide. Leaf margins on either side are attached at different points to a 2-3 cm long petiole. Inconspicuous, male and female flowers on separate plants in spring. On female plants, the flowers are followed by 0.5-1 cm long fruits, green initially, and turning dark bluish purple to black later.

The common name 'puka' is also used for a different New Zealand native, Meryta sinclairii.

Griselinia lucida requires free-draining soil. Suitable for a position in full sun or shade. Leaves tend to be larger on plants grown in shady spots. Tolerant of wind and coastal conditions. Susceptible to Phytophtora (root rot). If the plant is sulking and its leaves are losing their gloss, dig it up, prune, and transplant (if there still are some healthy roots present) in a drier position. Prune to keep compact. Tolerates moderate frosts.

Attractive, lush foliage, perfect for a tropical themed garden. Often grown as a shrub, but can be trained to a single leader. Forms a lovely contrast with fine-leafed shrubs, such as Muehlenbeckia astonii, flax-like plants, and grasses like Chionochloa flavicans.

helichrysum-italicum

Helichrysum italicum

curry plant, immortelle, everlasting

Small evergreen shrub in the daisy family (Asteraceae), native to Southern Europe. Linear, silvery, curry-scented leaves. Clusters of yellow flower heads during summer. Essential oil extracted from Helichrysum italicum is used for medicinal purposes. 

Synonym: Helichrysum angustifolium.

Prefers a sunny position in light, well-draining soil, but can cope with semi-shade and somewhat heavier soils. Not tolerant of full shade. Suitable for poor soils. Drought-tolerant once established. Prune once or twice a year to keep compact. Tolerates moderate frosts to about -10oC.

The curry scent is very intense, so plant it where you can enjoy the aroma without it overpowering other fragrances in your garden. Helichrysum italicum forms a delicate colour and textural combination with purple sage (see photo gallery). I have used the leaves in cooking, but they did not actually seem to add anything in terms of taste. The flowers retain their colour well after cutting and drying.

helichrysum-petiolare-limelight

Helichrysum petiolare 'Limelight'

limelight licorice plant

Evergreen, trailing shrub in the daisy family. Behaves as a climber when given support. Woolly, lime-green, rounded to ovate leaves with entire margins, 3.5 x 3.5 cm, emitting a mild licorice scent when crushed. Rarely flowers with insignificant creamy white flowers in late summer. The South African species Helichrysum petiolare is more vigorous and has become an invasive weed in several areas of the world, including New Zealand. The cultivar 'Limelight' won the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit in 1992.

Synonym: Helichrysum petiolare 'Aureum'.

Prefers partially shaded position in any well-drained soil. Will also grow in full sun or shade. Drought-tolerant once established. Usually pest-free, but may be affected by powdery mildew. OK for coastal gardens. Prune at any time of the year to keep tidy and compact. Tolerates light to moderate frosts of about -7 to -1 degrees Celsius (USDA zones 9-11).

Looks great when combined with dark green, bronze, or burgundy foliage. Also suitable for large containers.

hymenosporum-flavum

Hymenosporum flavum

Australian frangipani, native frangipani (Australia), sweet shade

Slender, evergreen tree, native to the rainforests of Australia (Queensland and New South Wales) and New Guinea. Belongs to the Pittosporaceae, the same family as Pittosporum. Fast growing once established. Relatively open and narrow canopy with a distinct horizontal branch pattern. Oblong to lanceolate, glossy green leaves with hairy undersides, 10 cm long by 4 cm wide. Very fragrant, 3-5 cm wide flowers, produced in clusters during spring or early summer. They are creamy white initially and turn yellow with age, sometimes with a reddish center, eventually followed by long pear-shaped seed capsules. Flowers resemble those of Plumeria, the frangipani tree, in size, shape and fragrance, hence the common name. Attracts birds and bees.

Prefers a sheltered position in any well-draining, alkaline to neutral soil. Flowers best in full sun, but can be grown in partial shade. Tolerates considerable drought and moderate frosts once established. Protect young plants from frosts. Suitable for coastal gardens, but since the branches are quite brittle, the tree needs protection from strong winds. 

Beautiful tree, smothered in sweetly scented flowers in spring or early summer. Thanks to its narrow growth habit, Hymenosporum flavum is suitable for smaller gardens. With a relatively sparsely branched canopy, it forms an attractive silhouette against a tall wall. Pruning encourages the development of a more compact crown.

jasminum-polyanthemum

Jasminum polyanthum

pink jasmine, white jasmine

Very vigorous evergreen climber native to China. Pinnately compound, dark green leaves with 5 to 7 leaflets. Masses of reddish pink flowerbuds open during late winter and early spring (and intermittently during the rest of the year) to fragrant white, starry flowers, 2 cm across and 4 cm long, sometimes followed by small glossy black berries. Spreads quickly by producing long runners and forming roots where nodes are in contact with soil. Runners can even grow under buidlings since the plant is tolerant to full shade and drought. Is naturalised in Australia and New Zealand, and is regarded as an invasive species in several regions of these countries. Forms a dense ground cover, preventing the establishment of native seedlings and smothering other vegetation. 

Very easy to grow and propagate. Tolerant to a range of extreme conditions including sun, shade, drought, dampness, salt, and wind. Prune to keep compact and remove runners to prevent the plant from spreading elsewhere. If you wish to grow Jasminum polyanthemum in New Zealand or Australia check with the local authorities to make sure it is not banned in your area.

Grown for its strongly perfumed flowers and vigorous climbing habit. Suitable as an indoor plant.

knightia-excelsa

Knightia excelsa

rewarewa, New Zealand honeysuckle

Tall evergreen New Zealand native tree with a narrow, columnar habit, flowering in spring. Occurs naturally throughout the North Island and in the northern parts of the South Island of New Zealand. Leaves are leathery, dark olive-green, pale beneath, with toothed margins, 3-4 cm wide, up to 30 cm long on juvenile plants and about 15 cm long on adult trees. Brown tomentum covers the branchlets, petioles and mid-veins on the undersides of the leaves. Bee-pollinated, reddish brown flowers, clustered tightly in racemes to 10 cm long. Flowers are rich in nectar and attract birds such as the New Zealand native tui. The protruding styles persist on the brown woody fruit capsules that follow the flowers and after about a year split in two halves to release winged seed.

Knightia excelsa prefers a sunny or partially shady position in any well-drained soil. Suitable for coastal gardens as long as it is sheltered from very strong winds to protect the leaves from leaf burn.Tolerant of dry conditions once established, but prone to root rot in wet soils. Moderately frost-hardy. Needs some frost protection when young. Thrips may become a problem in particular for plants that are already stressed, causing the leaves to turn pale, but this can be overcome by applying a systemic insecticide. No or little pruning required. 

Even though Knightia excelsa eventually becomes very tall, its narrow growth habit makes it an attractive specimen tree that is suitable even for smaller gardens. Looks great when planted in groups where space allows. Excellent choice if you wish to attract birds and bees in your garden.