Plant Guide

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nerium-oleander

Nerium oleander

Oleander

Evergreen shrub or small (usually multi-stemmed) tree, flowering in summer with 2.5-5 cm wide, white, pink, or reddish pink flowers in clusters at the end of the branches. Dark green, lanceolate to linear leaves, 5-20 cm long, 1 to 3 cm wide, arranged in twos or threes. Flowers may be, but are not always, scented. All parts of the plant are poisonous. Indigestion can be fatal. Contact with the flowers or foliage may cause severe allergic reactions, so wear long sleeves and gloves when handling Nerium oleander. Its native region stretches from the Mediterranean area to India and Southern China.

The common name alludes to its resemblance to the olive, Olea. Nerium oleander is the official flower of Hiroshima, being the first to flower after the atomic bombing of the city.

Easy to grow in just about any soil. Requires very little maintenance. Prefers a sunny position, but copes with partial shade. Established plants generally don't require fertilisation. Prune for shape in autumn. Can be pruned quite hard. Avoid touching the milky latex that exudes from the cut stems. Tolerates drought, coastal conditions, and moderate frosts (zones 8-11). Suitable for exposed sites, although strong winds may damage flower buds and open flowers. Yellowing of the leaves is usually a sign that the soil is too wet.

A magnificent sight when the plant is completely covered with flowers in summer. There are many cultivars available, with single or double flowers, and in a range of colours. In cold climates, Nerium oleander can be grown in a container and brought indoors for the winter.

olearia-paniculata

Olearia paniculata

akiraho

Evergreen shrub to 2-4 m tall or, when given sufficient space, a small tree to 6 m tall and 3 m wide, native to New Zealand. Light green, oval to oblong, leathery leaves, 3-10 cm long, 2-4 cm wide. Leaf margins are usually very wavy, but may be flat. Leaf undersides are covered with fine grey-white tomentum. Inconspicuous, creamy white, sweetly scented flower heads are produced in autumn. Occurs naturally in coastal areas, montane scrublands and forest margins of the North and South Islands of New Zealand.

Prefers a sunny or partially shaded position in well-draining soil. Tolerates moderate frosts, and dry, windy, and coastal conditions. Frost hardy throughout New Zealand. Responds well to trimming.

Excellent hedge or screen for coastal sites. Attractive foliage plant with an interesting texture and bright green colour.

pachystegia-insignis

Pachystegia insignis

Marlborough rock daisy, Kaikoura rock daisy, rock tree daisy

Low-growing flowering plant in the daisy family, endemic to New Zealand. Occurs naturally in exposed, rocky areas along the coast and on inland mountains in Marlborough and Northern Canterbury. Leathery, dark green leaves, 7-17 cm long, covered with tiny white hairs. Daisy-like white flowers to 7.5 cm across, with yellow centers emerge in spring from grey-white buds held above the foliage like felted drumsticks. The flowers are followed by fluffy, pale brown seed heads.

Synonyms: Olearia insignis, Olearia marginata. Of the three species in the genus Pachystegia, P. insignis is the most common, both in cultivation and in nature. Pachystegia rufa is similar to P. insignis, but has brownish felt on the flower buds, leaf-undersides, and the flower stems. Pachystegia minor is also very similar to the Marlborough rock daisy, but has smaller leaves without the white leaf margins. 

Prefers a sunny position in very well-draining soil. Can handle part shade, but will have a more open habit. Drought-tolerant. No maintenance required, other than pruning back if and when required. Usually trouble-free as long as the soil is sufficiently dry. Tolerates moderate frosts and is hardy throughout New Zealand.

Excellent choice for exposed, coastal sites. Looks attractive all year round with its grey-green foliage, silvery-grey flower buds and flower stems, the daisy-like flowers and fluffy seed-heads. Combine for example with grasses, succulents or ground covers such as Acaena inermis 'Purpurea' (as in the photographs).

phormium-surfer

Phormium 'Surfer'

flax 'Surfer'

A tough little flax with narrow, olive green leaves and reddish-brown leaf margins. Usually, some of the leaves have an obviously twisted section. Its little brother Phormium 'Surfer Bronze' has chocolate-bronze foliage. Phormium 'Surfer' may produce long spikes with orange-bronze flowers in late spring.

Phormium 'Surfer' is very easy to grow in a sunny or partially shaded position in well-draining soil. It can handle drought once established, and also copes well in windy locations. Frost hardy to about minus 12 deg Celsius (zones 8-11). Suitable for coastal gardens.

Nearly daily I walk past a garden where groups of Phormium 'Surfer' have been planted in the shade of large trees. They look awesome even though they don't appear to grow any taller. The ones in the photographs are planted in full sun, and after one year they are fuller and bigger than the plants in deep shade.                                                                                                  

Phormium 'Surfer' looks great in groups, especially when combined with grasses and groundcovers such as Coprosma acerosa. I also love the beautiful colour combination of the bronze-purple foliage of Loropetalum 'Burgundy' and the bronze-edged leaves of Phormium 'Surfer'. 

pittosporum-crassifolium

Pittosporum crassifolium

karo

New Zealand native evergreen shrub or small tree. Thick, leathery, obovate leaves with rolled down margins, about 6 cm long and 2 cm wide. The leaf undersides and petioles are covered with a dense whitish tomentum. Deep red, fragrant, unisexual flowers in spring, the female ones turning into three- or four-valved seed capsules which eventually split open to reveal shiny black seeds. Provides food for native and exotic birds. Originally occurred naturally near the coast, along streams and in forest margins in the North Island of New Zealand from the North Cape to Poverty Bay, and in the Kermadic Islands. Karo is now naturalised throughout most of New Zealand.

Prefers a sunny or semi-shady position in free-draining soil. Tolerates wind, coastal conditions, relatively dry sites, and moderate frosts (zones 9-11). Usually quite fast growing and problem-free. Prune yearly. Benefits from mulch and compost.

Tough plant with a grey-green overall appearance. Suitable for hedging purposes. The flowers release a delightful scent at night. Excellent choice for seaside gardens as a filler or background plant.

podocarpus-totara-aurea

Podocarpus totara 'Aurea'

golden totara

Golden-leafed cultivar of Podocarpus totara, a New Zealand native conifer. Pyramidal to columnar growth habit. The needle-like leaves are linear, sessile, 1-3 cm long, 2-4 mm wide. Leaf colour varies somewhat during the year from light green in spring, changing to yellow in summer, and deepening to golden yellow in winter.

Plant in full sun for best foliage colour. Prefers well-draining soil. Tolerates dry conditions once established. Responds well to trimming and is suitable for hedging purposes. Tends to have a bushy habit with foliage from ground level, but can be trained to grow as a specimen tree from an early age by selecting one shoot to become the central leader and gradually removing the side shoots. Make sure to stake the tree when planting in an exposed position. Suitable for coastal gardens.Tolerates moderate frosts, and is hardy throughout New Zealand.

Smaller and slower growing than the species itself, Podocarpus totara 'Aurea' can be accomodated in garden settings for many years. Forms a nice dense hedge.

podranea-ricasoliana

Podranea ricasoliana

Port St Johns creeper, pink trumpet vine, Zimbabwe creeper, queen of Sheba, Port St Johns klimop, pink tecoma

Evergreen climber in the Bignoniaceae family with glossy, pinnately compound leaves and showy flowers in clusters during summer. Oval leaflets, 2-9 cm long, with entire to sparsely toothed margins. The trumpet-shaped, 6-8 cm long flowers are pink with darker pink to red stripes. Sometimes the flowers are followed by seed capsules that look like long, narrow green beans (to about 25 cm long and 0.5-1 cm wide). Origin uncertain: possibly indigenous to South Africa, but may have been introduced there by slave traders.

Synonyms: Tecoma ricasoliana, Pandorea ricasoliana, Bignonia rosea.

Prefers a position in full sun, but will handle partial shade. Grows in any rich, well-draining soil. Tolerates coastal conditions and wind. Mature plants can cope with moderate frosts (to about -7 0C). Once established, Podranea ricasoliana is reasonably drought tolerant. It does not produce tendrils, so needs to be tied to a support structure, and can be espaliered. Prune in winter or early spring. In parts of New Zealand this plant is regarded as a weed and a threat for the native vegetation.

Vigorous climber with attractive foliage and a spectacular candy-floss pink flower display in late summer. Great choice where you want a fast cover for fences, walls, arches, or pergolas. Could be used as a ground cover, sprawling over rocks and banks. Grow in a large container in cold climates and move indoors during winter.

protea-neriifolia-limelight

Protea neriifolia 'Limelight'

Evergreen shrub with lanceolate leaves, flowering mainly during autumn and winter with creamy-green flower-heads with purple-red tufts on the bracts. Similar to, but a smaller shrub with smaller flowers than 'Green Ice'

'Limelight' (= 'Green Jade') is a cultivar developed in 1950 in New Zealand, originating from the oleander-leaved or narrow-leaved Protea neriifolia, which is endemic to South Africa.

Prefers a sunny position in acidic, and relatively poor soil. Any soil type is suitable but it must be well-draining. A yearly application of blood and bone in spring is recommended, but otherwise keep the nutrient levels low and don't apply any further fertilisers. In general, proteas dislike humidity, so a relatively windy site is ideal, since the wind keeps the humidity down. Staking will be required in very windy locations. No additional watering is necessary, except maybe in extremely dry summers. Mulch to keep the weeds down or grow as a lawn specimen, to limit the need to remove weeds around the plant and thus disturb its sensitive, shallow root system. They can be pruned quite heavily, but not beyond the foliage. Remove dead and damaged wood, as well as the by-pass shoots that the develop just below the flower-head. Suitable for coastal conditions.

Striking plant when in flower. Perfect for coastal gardens. The flowers (and foliage) last for ages on water. Just be careful not to "kill them by kindness"!

pseudopanax-linearifolius

Pseudopanax 'Linearifolius'

Erect growing evergreen New Zealand native shrub, probably a hybrid of Pseudopanax crassifolius and Pseudopanax lessonii. Leathery leaves with three to five (3-5 foliolate) long, narrow leaflets with serrated margins. Leaves may become 3-foliolate or even simple (i.e. a single leaf per node) as the plant matures.

Requires well-draining soil and is not tolerant of damp soil conditions. Grows well in any light situation from shade to full sun. Tolerates light to moderate frosts, coastal conditions, dry shade, and exposed sites.

Ideal tub plant. Great as a backdrop for smaller plants and useful as a contrast plant in particular when combined with large-leafed shrubs such as Griselinia lucida or Meryta sinclairii.

rhaphiolepis-indica-enchantress

Rhaphiolepis indica 'Enchantress'

pink Indian hawthorn

One of the cultivars of Rhaphiolepis indica, the Indian hawthorn, a tough evergreen shrub from to southern China. 'Enchantress' is also known as 'Pinkie'. Thick, leathery, oblong leaves with toothed margins, dark green above, olive green beneath, developing a bronze tinge later in winter. Star-shaped, 5-petalled, pink with white flowers, 2-3 cm across, in clusters at the ends of branches, mainly during spring. Flowers are followed by small dark blue berries. Most named cultivars of Rhaphiolepis indica are smaller-growing than the species itself which usually reaches a height of about 2.5 m, but can grow even taller in suitable growing conditions.

Prefers a position in full sun and well-draining soil. In extremely hot climates, a partially shaded position is better. Tolerates coastal conditions, wind exposure, and relatively dry soils once established. Trim once a year after flowering to keep compact. Withstands hard pruning. Resents root disturbance.  Moderate frosts to about -10 deg C.  

Great choice for a coastal hedge. Also suitable as a filler, clipped specimen, container plant, or a shrub for flower display after the winter-flowering plants have stopped flowering, and just before the roses begin to flower.  

 

sophora-molloyi-dragons-gold

Sophora molloyi 'Dragons Gold'

Stephens Island kowhai

Evergreen, low-growing, spreading shrub to 1.5-2 m with golden yellow flowers during winter. Attracts nectra-feeding birds.Tubular flowers, 3-5 cm long, appear well before flowers of other commmonly grown kowhais. Pinnately compound leaves with small leaflets.

The common name for New Zealand Sophora species is kowhai. Sophora molloyi occurs naturally in dry, exposed headlands around the southern part of the North Island of New Zealand. 'Dragons Gold' is a selection developed by Terry Hatch of Joy Plants, Pukekohe, New Zealand, and originated from seedlings grown from seed obtained from Sophora molloyi on Stephens Island. The selection was named 'Dragons Gold' in reference to the tuatara population on Stephens Island.

Prefers a sunny or partially shaded position in any free-draining soil. Grows somewhat slower in poor soils. Tolerates exposed sites, coastal conditions and medium frosts (hardy throughout New Zealand). Drought tolerant once established. Trim after flowering to maintain a tidy habit. Can be trained as a standard. Suitable for hedging purposes, but fewer flowers will be produced with regular trimming. Keep an eye out for caterpillars. Insecticide applications may be necessary to prevent the Kowhai moth caterpillar from defoliating the plant.

 

teucrium-fruticans

Teucrium fruticans

shrubby germander, bush germander

Evergreen shrub with grey-green foliage, pale lilac-blue flowers, and a somwhat angular branching pattern. Native to Spain, Portugal, Italy and north Africa. Stems and undersides of leaves are covered with tiny white hairs giving the plant a silvery-grey overall appearance. Leaves are ovate to lance-shaped, 2-3 cm long. The pale lilac-blue flowers are two-lipped, and 2.5 cm long.

Prefers a sunny position in well-drained soil. Tolerates poor soils, dry conditions, and moderate frosts. Suitable for coastal plantings. Prune to keep compact or to create a specific shape.

Mainly grown for its attractive silvery colour. If you are particularly interested in a good display of flowers then the cultivar 'Azureum' with a much stronger colour contrast between flowers and foliage is a better choice. This cultivar combines well with other blue-flowering shrubs. The flowers of Teucrium fruticans itself fit in better with purple colour schemes.

teucrium-fruticans-azureum

Teucrium fruticans 'Azureum'

Evergreen shrub with grey-green foliage and blue flowers. Stems and undersides of leaves are covered with dense white hairs, giving the plant a silvery grey overall appearance. Leaves are ovate to lance-shaped, 2-3 cm long. Azure blue, two-lipped flowers, 2.5 cm long, mainly during summer. Teucrium fruticans (shrubby germander, bush germander) itself is native to Spain, Portugal, Italy and North Africa, and has pale lilac flowers.

Prefers a sunny position in well-drained soil. Tolerates poor soils, dry conditions and medium frosts. Suitable for coastal plantings. 

Mainly grown for its attractive silvery colour, which forms a beautiful contrast with the deep blue flowers. Can be pruned to any shape. A regular prune is a good idea since otherwise growth is somewhat lax, and its young foliage looks better than the older leaves.

 

trachelospermum-jasminoides

Trachelospermum jasminoides

star jasmine, confederate jasmine, trader's compass

Evergreen, self-twining climber, native to eastern and southeastern Asia. Oval to lanceolate, glossy dark green leaves, 4-10 cm long, 2-4 cm wide, arranged in pairs. Some of the leaves turn bronze or dark to bright red in winter.  Flowering during late spring and summer with clusters of very fragrant, white, pinwheel-shaped flowers to 2 cm across.

Synonym: Rynchospermum jasminoides.

Plant in any well-drained soil. Flowers best in full sun, but copes well with partial or even deep shade.Tolerates relatively dry conditions once established. Suitable for exposed, coastal areas. Generally free from serious pests and diseases.Tolerates moderate frosts to about -120C. 

Versatile plant with intensely perfumed flowers that smother the plant from late spring. Climbs happily against support structures, and can be espaliered. Will not cling to masonry walls. Suitable as a ground cover, but may need regular pruning to maintain a tidy look. Also when growing Trachelospermum jasminoides as a climber, a yearly prune is recommended to keep the plant bushy. Also suitable as an indoor plant.

tropaeolum-majus

Tropaeolum majus

nasturtium, garden nasturtium, Indian cress

Annual trailing plant, native to South America. Rounded to kidney-shaped, light to mid green leaves with wavy margins and long petioles attached to the middle of the leaf blades. Flowering throughout summer with bright yellow, red, orange, or bi-colored, 4-6 cm wide flowers, produced in the leaf axils. Flower corolla with three large and two smaller petals, and a 2-4 cm long spur at the base. The edible flowers, leaves and seeds have a peppery taste. Although Tropaeolum majus is not difficult to keep under control in garden situations, in the wild it has become invasive in several parts of the world.

Prefers a position in partial shade or full sun with some afternoon shade. Flowering is best in soils with a low to moderate fertility. Very easy to grow from seed, planted after the last frost in spring. Spreads by self-seeding. Stems tend to trail along the ground, but when they reach other plants or a structure of some sort, they will happily climb upwards. Leaves are frost-sensitive.

Nasturtium is a lovely, happy, and versatile plant to have in your garden, and very useful in the kitchen. Use the flowers to brighten up a salad, add them to a sandwich, or fill them with cream cheese, guacamole, or feta. You can do the same with the leaves; roll them up and tie the stem around the rolls. Nasturtium does well in containers or hanging baskets, and loves to climb with a bit of help. Great to plant in combination with winter-early spring flowering bulbs, hiding unsightly bulb leaves from spring onwards with lush green foliage and brilliant flower colours in summer.