Plant Guide

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Flower display

salvia-uliginosa

Salvia uliginosa

bog sage

Fast growing, herbaceous, evergreen perennial, native to Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina. Four-ribbed stems with somewhat sticky, lanceolate, toothed leaves. Azure blue with white, two-lipped flowers, 2 cm long, in whorls arranged in spikes, during summer and autumn.

Prefers a sunny or partially shaded position in any type of soil. Really likes moist soils, but tolerates, and usually spreads less vigorously in, dry conditions. Generally disease-free. Cut back to near ground level after flowering. Spreads by means of underground runners. Keep an eye on these and remove them where they are not wanted. Tolerates moderate frosts. Frost-hardy throughout New Zealand.

Reaches a height of about 1.8 m in one growing season, so plant in the back of borders for a gorgeous, long-lasting display of blue. Attracts butterflies.

scabiosa-columbaria

Scabiosa columbaria

Evergreen clump-forming perennial with basal dull green to bluish green leaves. Pincushion-shaped buds on erect stems open to blue or lavender flower heads about 5-8 cm across during spring, summer and autumn.

Prefers a well-drained, sunny position, but also tolerates shady conditions. Copes with drought and occasional high moisture levels. Very easy to grow and divide. Gradually spreads by itself without becoming invasive.

Looks fantastic when in flower, and makes a great ground cover during the rest of the year. If you happen to have a Wisteria with lavender-coloured flowers in your garden, consider under-planting it with Scabiosa columbaria to create a gorgeous composition for very early spring when both begin to flower. Scabiosa will continue flowering for a long time after that.

scilla-peruviana

Scilla peruviana

giant scilla, Peruvian lily, Cubian lily, Carribean lily, Portuguese squill, hyacinth of Peru, star of Peru

Bulbous plant with basal, linear leaves (20-60cm long and 2-4cm wide) flowering during spring with starry blue, 1.5 cm wide flowers arranged in dense racemes. Foliage dies down after flowering and a brief dormant period follows in summer. Is naturalised and regarded as a weed in some parts of Australia.

Although 'peruviana' means 'from Peru', Scilla peruviana originates from South-West Europe to North-West Africa. Bulbs collected in 17th century Spain were shipped to England on a ship named 'Peru'. Carolus Clusius named the plant Hyacynthus stellatus peruanus, thinking that it came from Peru. Linnaeus continued the confusion by renaming the plant Scilla peruviana.

Scilla peruviana is still the most widely used name, but this species has been renamed Oncostema peruviana.

Prefers a sunny or lightly shaded spot in well-draining soil. Drought tolerant once established. Best planted during the dormant period in summer with the neck of the bulb just above soil level. Can be lifted, divided, and replanted, but may not produce flowers until after a year or two. Suitable for coastal gardens. Tolerates moderate frosts (zones 8-10).

Stunning spring colour. In areas where heavy frosts occur, Scilla peruviana can be grown in containers and placed outside once the spring frosts are over.

sedum-spectabile

Sedum spectabile

stonecrop, butterfly stonecrop, ice plant

Herbaceous perennial in the family of the Crassulaceae, native to China and Korea. Thick, fleshy, toothed leaves, 5-10 cm long, arranged in pairs or whorls. Large, 10-15 wide,   branched heads of tiny pink to rose flowers in late summer and autumn on erect, thickened, succulent stems. Several hybrids are available, such as 'Herbstfreude'='Autumn Joy' with blue-green leaves and pink flowers, darkening to bronze with age. 'Vera Jameson' has pale pink flowers and dark brown-purple foliage.

Synonym: Hylotelephium spectabile.

Requires a sunny position in well-drained soil. Intolerant of wet soils, but copes well with dry conditions. Suitable for poor soils and coastal gardens. Flowering stems may need staking later in the season. Cut stems back to ground level after flowering. By that time you can usually see the tiny rosettes of new leaves at the base of the stems. If the plant becomes too large for where it is and you would like some more elsewhere in your garden, divide it in early spring and replant the separated portions.

Sedum spectabile looks lovely when it comes back into growth during spring with a tidy clump of grey green leaves, and later on with a magnificent display of colourful flowers, opening from green buds. Combine for example with white or pale pink, late summer flowering perennials.

solanum-jasminoides

Solanum jasminoides

potato vine

Vigorous, fast-growing climber native to Brazil. Flowers from late spring to late autumn with clusters of small star-shaped flowers. The latter are white with yellow stamens and resemble potato plant flowers, hence the name.

May be pruned back hard, but that should not be required if pruned twice a year.

The perfect plant to quickly cover a wall, fence, or trellis, and flowers for most of the year.

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.

 

Tagetes-lemmonii

Tagetes lemmonii

Mexican marigold, mountain marigold, perennial marigold, Copper Canyon daisy

Evergreen plant in the daisy family with finely divided, pinnately compound foliage and orange-yellow flowers during most of the year, but in particular during autumn and winter. The leaves have a strong fragrance, somewhat like the scent of passionfruit (according to some the foliage smells like a combination of marigold, lemon, and mint). Oils in the plant may cause skin irritation in some people. Attracts bees and butterflies.

Discovered in Arizona by plant collectors John and Sara Lemmon in the late 1800s. Its natural habitat stretches south from Arizona down to norther Mexico. 

Tagetes lemmonii does best in a sunny position in well-draining soil. Becomes leggy when it doesn't receive enough sunlight. In very hot climates, a partially shaded position is best. Drought-tolerant, but prefers some regular irrigation. Avoid over-watering. Easy to propagate from cuttings, and can also be divided or propagated from seed. Tolerates moderate frosts (zones 8-11). Although some frost damage may occur in zone 8, the plant will bounce back in spring. Trim once a year to keep the plant compact.

Tagetes lemmonii is supposed to flower in response to short days, but in my garden it has been in flower since it was large enough in spring and now, mid-summer, it is still covered with flowers. Each time I photograph this plant I am disappointed to find that the flower colour in the photo appears more yellow than orange, whereas in reality the flowers look more orange than yellow to me. The plant has a lovely, somewhat whimsical appearance.

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.

 

teucrium-hircanicum-purple-tails

Teucrium hircanicum 'Purple Tails'

Cultivar of the Iranian wood sage or Caucasian germander, a clump-forming sub-shrub with soft, downy stems and leaves, native to western Asia and the Caucasus region.Teucrium hircanicum 'Purple Tails' has oblong to ovate leaves in opposite pairs, 5-10 cm long, with rounded teeth along the margins, and a somewhat wrinkly upper surface. Reddish purple flowers appear during early summer, tightly packed in long spikes, 15-30 cm long, gradually opening and colouring up from the base of the inflorescence. 

Prefers a sunny or partially shaded position in any well-draining soil. Does not like wet feet. Cut back after flowering to keep compact. The stems can become relatively floppy and get blown about in the wind, so unless planted in a sheltered position, some support may be required. Self-seeds.

Dramatic display of vertical spikes in stunning colours set off beautifully by the mid green foliage. Looks great in groups in the middle or the back of borders. Makes a lovely combination with the dark reddish purple young foliage of Hebe 'Pretty in Pink'. Alternatively, combine with other purple-flowering plants and an occasional yellow highlight. Select plants with contrasting flower shapes.

Tibouchina urvilleana

Tibouchina urvilleana

glory bush, princess flower

Bushy shrub or small tree with rounded crown, reaching 3-5m tall. Rich purple flowers 5 to 7 cm across, emerging from reddish, hairy buds during late summer and autumn. Slightly hairy, oblong to ovate leaves, 5 to 10 cm long, with conspicuous veins. Reddish and hairy young stems. Native to Brazil. Frost tender when young. Tolerates light to medium frosts when established. Needs protection from strong winds. Synonyms: Tibouchina semidecandra and Lasiandra semidecandra.

trachelium-caeruleum

Trachelium caeruleum

thoatwort, blue throatwort

Herbaceous perennial originating from the Mediterranean region with toothed, oval leaves, and small purple, slightly scented flowers in domed clusters (8-15 cm wide) during summer. The common name alludes to the fact that the plant was thought to have medicinal powers and used as a gargle for sore throats.

Prefers a sunny position in any well-draining, fertile soil. Although Trachelium caeruleum prefers an average supply of moisture, it can handle quite dry conditions. Cut back after flowering. Self-seeds readily and flowers in its first year from seed. Usually pest and disease free. Lasts for about 2 weeks as a cut flower. Flowers are ready for picking when 1/4 to 1/3 of the florets are open. Tolerates light-medium frosts (to about -7 deg Celsius, zones 9-11). Often grown as an annual in colder climates. Suitable for coastal gardens.

In the photo Trachelium caeruleum is growing in a pot together with Agapanthus, resulting in a beautiful colour combination when both are flowering at the same time. Trachelium is also suitable for the flower border, and looks great in combination with either yellow (e.g. dahlias and yarrow) or red flowering plants (e.g. Rosa 'Flowercarpet red'). Great for bees and butterflies!

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.

viburnum-japonicum

Viburnum japonicum

Japanese viburnum

Rounded evergreen shrub, native to Japan and Taiwan. Glossy green, leathery, ovate leaves in opposite pairs, 9-14 cm long and 6-9 cm wide. Leaves have prominent veins and a slightly serrated edge. Foliage may turn partially red during winter in cold climates. Flat clusters of mildly fragrant, creamy white flowers, 7-12 cm across, during spring. Shiny red berries in autumn and persisting through winter. Viburnum japonicum is not self-fertile and needs another plant of the same species nearby to produce fruit.

Prefers a sheltered position in full sun or partial shade and any moist, well-draining soil. Not suitable for areas with poor, dry soils. Tolerates moderate frosts. Since Viburnum japonicum is a naturally bushy plant, pruning is usually not required other than to develop a good shape or maintain a well-furnished hedge.

Ideal for use as a screen or hedge. Great filler in shrub borders for flower and fruit display. 

 

viburnum-opulus

Viburnum opulus 'Roseum'

(European or common) snowball tree or bush, Guelder rose

Vigorous deciduous shrub with tall, arching branches, flowering profusely during spring with snowball-like flower clusters. Maple-like leaves with toothed and three-lobed margins, mid green, turning yellow or reddish purple in autumn. Flower clusters are 6-8 cm wide, greenish cream initially, changing to pure white, and finally pale pink.

Synonym: Viburnum opulus 'Sterile'

Viburnum opulus is native to Europe, northern Africa and central Asia. Its flower clusters consist of an outer ring of sterile flowers with conspicuous petals, surrounding a centre of tiny fertile flowers. Viburnum opulus 'Roseum' flower clusters consist entirely of sterile flowers, which is why this plant does not produce fruit, whereas on plants of the parent species the flowers are followed by red fruits.

Prefers a position in full sun or part shade and well-drained soil. Tolerates a wide range of soil types. Generally survives (but not thrives) in shade, or in wet and dry soils. Prune as needed straight after flowering. If the shrub becomes too overcrowded, you can thin it out by cutting back about one-third of the oldest branches to near ground level. Prone to aphids. Frost hardy.

A magnificent sight when in flower during spring with fluffy snowball-like flower clusters hanging at the ends of the arching branches.