Plant Guide

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Flower display

cestrum-cultum

Cestrum x cultum

purple Cestrum

Evergreen shrub with purple tubular flowers 2-3 cm long in terminal panicles on long, arching branches. Ovate to lance-shaped leaves, 10-15 cm long, to 3 cm wide. Cross between Cestrum elegans and Cestrum parqui. All parts are poisonous. Hardy to -7oC.

Cestrum x cultum may be cut back after flowering to near ground level and will re-grow during the next season to a height of about 2m.

chimonanthus-praecox

Chimonanthus praecox

wintersweet, Japanese allspice

Loose vase-shaped deciduous shrub native to China. Very fragrant, waxy, cup-shaped flowers, 1.5-2.5 cm across, on previous season's bare wood during winter, pale yellow with purplish-red stain in the center on the inner petals. Opposite, lance-shaped, dark green leaves, 7-12 cm long, with rough upper surface, turning yellow in autumn. Chimonanthus praecox 'Grandiflorus' has larger deep yellow flowers to 5 cm across. Chimonanthus praecox 'Luteus' has slightly larger yellow flowers without the purplish-red stain.

Prefers a sheltered position in full sun or light shade with good drainage. Best planted against a dark background where you can enjoy the flowers and their fragrance.

Synonyms: Chimonanthus fragrans, Meratia praecox

choisya-ternata

Choisya ternata

Mexican orange blossom, Mexican orange

Rounded, evergreen shrub native to southern USA and Mexico. Glossy leaves palmately divided into three leaflets, 5-8 cm long, covered with oilglands, aromatic when crushed.  Clusters of small, star-shaped, scented, pure white flowers, 1-2 cm across, similar to orange blossoms in shape and fragrance. Main flowering season is spring, but flowers intermittently during the rest of the year.

Choisya ternata prefers a sheltered position in full sun, but copes with full shade. In very hot climates a position in partial shade whithout afternoon sun is best. Will grow in a range of soils, including sandy or loamy, and acidic or neutral. Drought tolerant once established. 

Lightly prune after flowering.

 

cistus-brilliancy

Cistus x purpureus 'Brilliancy'

Brilliancy rock rose, pink rock rose

Evergreen shrub, flowering in spring and summer with deep pink, crepe paper like, 5 cm wide flowers with yellow central stamens and a maroon blotch at the base of each petal. Sticky brown  stems and narrow green leaves in opposite pairs. 

Prefers a sunny spot in light, well-draining soil. Tolerates clay. Cistus x purpureus 'Brilliancy' tends to form quite an open shrub, and needs trimming after flowering to keep it compact. No need for fertilisers. Drought-tolerant once established. Suitable for coastal gardens and exposed sites. Frost hardy (zones 7-10). All Cistus species thrive in Mediterranean climate types.

Individual flowers only last one day, but the plant is generally smothered with flowers in particular at the beginning of the flowering season and puts on a fantastic show.

clerodendrum-trichotomum

Clerodendrum trichotomum

harlequin glorybower, glorytree, peanut butter tree

Large, evergreen shrub, native to Japan, China, Korea, Taiwan, and India. Can be trained to grow as a tree with a single leader. Soft, downy, ovate leaves to 12 cm long, arranged in opposite pairs, emitting a peanut butter scent when crushed. Fragrant, white, jasmine-like flowers in clusters during late summer, followed by blue fruit, each subtended by a red calyx. Regarded as an 'unwanted organism' in New Zealand, where it has become invasive and poses a threat for the native vegetation. Seeds are poisonous and the rest of the plant may irritate the skin.

Prefers a sheltered position in full sun and any well-draining soil. Copes with partial shade also.Tolerates moderate frosts (USDA zones 7-10). Generally disease-free.

Beautiful shrub when in flower, and even more attractive when in fruit. May get leggy at the base, so use underplanting to hide this. In New Zealand, you will not be able to purchase Clerodendrum trichotomum since it has become somewhat too enthusiastic! There are still quite a few growing in parks and private gardens.

clianthus-maximus

Clianthus maximus

kaka beak, kowhai ngutu-kaka

Evergreen shrub, endemic to New Zealand, but rare in the wild. The pinnately compound, 15-25 cm long leaves resemble those of another New Zealand native plant, the kowhai (Sophora species). Drooping, 8 cm long, red flowers, shaped somewhat like the New Zealand native parrot's (kaka's) beak. May flower at any time during the year, but most  specimens flower during spring or summer. The photo was taken in early spring. Green, pea-like seed pods. 

Clianthus maximus is similar to Clianthus puniceus, and for a long time was treated as a variety of the latter. Also sold as Clianthus 'Kaka King'. Compared to Clianthus puniceus, Clianthus maximus has larger flowers and leaves, and its foliage is glossy and darker green.

Prefers an open sunny position in well-draining, fertile soil. Not tolerant of very wet, waterlogged conditions, but tolerates dry soils once established. When growing conditions are not ideal, Clianthus maximus is susceptible to a range of pests, including caterpillars, slugs, snails, leaf miners and thrips. The shrub tends to have an open habit, in particular when not grown in full fun, so prune regularly to keep the plant compact. Tolerates light to medium frosts. Suitable for coastal gardens and exposed sites. Can be short-lived, and may need to be replaced after 3-5 years. Easy to propagate from cuttings or seed.

Attractive, fast growing, New Zealand native plant with gorgeous flowers in large clusters. Can be trained as a climber or espaliered.

clivia-miniata

Clivia miniata

Natal lily, bush lily

Clump-forming, evergreen, rhizomatous perennial, native to South Africa. Strap-shaped, shiny dark green leaves, 0.6-1 m long and 5-8 cm wide. Long-stalked umbels of 10-20 or more brilliant orange, trumpet-shaped flowers during early spring, and sporadically at other times of the year. Flowers are followed by berries containing up to 20 seeds, but usually less than 10. Several cultivars are available, including bright yellow, creamy yellow, pale orange, red-orange forms. All parts are poisonous.

Prefers a sheltered spot in full or dappled shade and well-draining soil. Avoid a position in bright sunlight to prevent damage to the leaves.  Water only in dry weather during the warmer months of the year, but keep dry during winter. Tolerates light frosts only. Easy to propagate by means of division.

Excellent plant for a position under the eaves on the shady side of the house. Bold and bright flower display when planted en masse. Flowers last well on water. Foliage is attractive all year round and has good strong, textural qualities, perfect for gardens with a (sub)tropical theme or for combinations with finer-leafed plants, such as ferns. Suitable for containers, either as an indoor or outdoor plant.

colchicum-autumnale

Colchicum autumnale

Autumn crocus, naked ladies, meadow saffron

Herbaceous perennial with narrow strap-shaped leaves, flowering in autumn with lilac crocus-like flowers (5-8 cm wide). The leaves appear in spring and die down before the flowers emerge. All parts are poisonous on ingestion and contact with the skin may cause irritations.

Originally from Central and South-East Europe, Colchicum autumnale is naturalised in many countries, including New Zealand. Although the flowers look very similar to those of the Crocus, Colchicum autumnale and Crocus belong to different plant families and are only distantly related in a genetic sense. Apart from a difference in flowering time, you can also tell them apart by the fact that a crocus has three stamens and an autumn crocus has six.

Prefers a sunny, sheltered position in well-draining soil. Poor drainage may result in corm rot. In hot climates, partial shade is best. Can be propagated by dividing the corms when they are dormant during winter. Frost hardy (zones 5-9).

Lovely for flower display in woodland gardens or in containers. When selecting a spot, consider the fact that the leaves will turn yellow and die in summer, so you may not wish to give it the prime position in your garden, but one to give you a sweet surprise when walking past in autumn. The flower stems tend to be somewhat floppy, and possibly surrounding ground-covering plants could offer support. 

convolvulus-cneorum

Convolvulus cneorum

silverbush, shrubby bindweed, silvery bindweed

Bun-shaped evergreen shrub with silvery appearance, native to the Mediterranean. Silky, grey-green leaves, covered with tiny hairs. White flower buds, flushed with pink, open to short trumpet-shaped, 4 cm wide, white flowers with yellow centers, often completely covering the plant. Flowers close at night and may only partially open on dull days. 

Convolvulus cneorum prefers a position in full sun and light, poor to moderately fertile, well draining soil. Tolerates coastal conditions, drought, and light to medium frosts. Usually free from pests and diseases. Lightly trim after flowering to keep compact. Suitable for containers.

Excellent choice for hot and dry areas. Suitable as a low, informal hedge or path edging. Combines beautifully with purples and blues. The silvery foliage looks great when planted en masse and used as a colour and shape contrast for more architectural shrubs such as dark--leafed flax cultivars, or as a shape contrast for grey, architectural plants like Astelia chathamica 'Silver spear'. 

convolvulus-sabatius-subsp-mauritanicus

Convolvulus sabatius subsp. mauritanicus

bindweed, ground morning glory, blue rock bindweed

Evergreen, trailing ground-covering plant belonging to the morning glory family (Convolvulaceae), native to North Africa, Spain, and Italy. Funnel-shaped blue to mauve flowers, 2.5 cm wide, appearing mainly during summer and early autumn. Flowers open and close in relation to the amount of sunlight they receive. Soft, fine-haired grey-green leaves, 1.5-3.5 cm long.

Synonym: Convolvulus mauritanicus.

Prefers a sunny position in any well-draining soil. Drought tolerant once established. Tolerates moderate frosts (zones 8-10).  Trim in late winter to prevent the plant from becoming too woody. Suitable for coastal areas.

Undemanding, easy care plant that flowers profusely in summer. Looks great, trailing over walls. Not invasive (unlike the common morning glory).

cornus-capitata

Cornus capitata

Himalayan strawberry tree, Himalayan flowering dogwood, evergreen dogwood, Bentham's cornel

Evergreen tree in the dogwood family (Cornaceae), native to the Himalayas. Dull green, ovate to lanceolate leaves with grey-green undersides, 8-12 cm long, arranged in opposite pairs. Some of the leaves may turn reddish in autumn. In areas with cold winters, Cornus capitata may behave as a deciduous or semi-deciduous tree. Flowers in late spring or early summer with insignificant central clusters, surrounded by four showy, creamy white to pale yellow bracts, 7-14 cm wide. Flowers are followed by bird-attracting, strawberry-like berries, about 3-5 cm wide. Fruit may be bitter, but is edible and can be eaten raw or cooked, or used in preserves. Naturalised in parts of Australia and new Zealand, and regarded as an environmental weed in some of these areas.

Synonyms: Benthamida capitata, Benthamia capitata, Benthamida fragifera, Benthamia fragifera, Dendrobenthamia capitata.

Prefers a sheltered, sunny or partially shaded position in well-draining, sandy soil, but can cope with other soil types, including clay soils. Likes moist conditions, but tolerates drought. Moderately frost-hardy (-5 to -10oC).

Lovely ornamental tree for flower and fruit display. The perfect tree to attract birds in your garden.

cosmos-bipinnatus

Cosmos bipinnatus

garden cosmos, Mexican aster, cosmea, Spanish needles

Tall growing, annual plant with delicate, finely divided foliage. Native to Mexico and southern USA, but naturalised in many parts of the world. Summer flowering with white, pink, or crimson, daisy-like, 8 cm wide flowers with a yellow centre. Attracts butterflies. Many cultivars have been introduced, including dwarf ones (Sonata series) that grow 30-50 cm tall.

Cosmos bipinnatus prefers a sunny position in well-draining soil.  Self-seeds and easy to propagate from seed. Pinch out the tip once the plant is about 15-20 cm tall, to encourage branching. When it reaches flowering size, the plant usually becomes somewhat top-heavy, so will need staking. Deadhead to prolong the flowering season. May suffer from grey mould, aphids, and slugs.

Cosmos is an annual plant, so it flowers, seeds set, and then dies within one year. Once you have planted this in your garden, new seedlings will appear in subsequent years (as long as you give the plants a chance to form seeds before cutting off the spent flowers). Lovely flowering plant for the middle or back of borders. Flowers last a bit more than a week on water.

cotinus-grace

Cotinus 'Grace'

smoke tree

Small deciduous, round-headed tree or large shrub with burgundy-coloured foliage and large pink 'clouds' of tiny flowers in summer. The leaves emerge wine red in spring, gradually darken during summer and finally turn scarlet red in autumn. The sap may cause skin/eye irritations.

Raised in the UK during the late 1970s, 'Grace' is a hybrid between the cultivar 'Velvet Cloak' of Cotinus coggygria (European smoke bush) and Cotinus obovatus (American smoke tree). 

Prefers a sunny position for best foliage colour. Grows in any soil-type as long as it is well-drained. Tolerates poor soil. Can withstand periods of drought once established. Vigorous when young. Responds to pruning. Frost-hardy (zones 5-10).

Beautiful plant with striking foliage colours throughout the growing season, and tiny flowers in large panicles that resemble smoke-like plumes. Use as a focal point, and repeat the foliage colour in lower-growing shrubs elsewhere in the garden.

crataegus-paul-s-scarlet

Crataegus laevigata 'Paul's Scarlet

Paul's Scarlet hawthorn

Small, deciduous tree in the rose family (Rosaceae) with thorny branches. Very showy, crimson, double flowers in spring. Alternate, glossy leaves with three-five lobes and toothed margins. Yellow and bronze autumn foliage. Discovered more than 150 years ago as a sport on a Crataegus laevigata 'Rosea Flore Pleno' plant, and introduced to the trade in 1866 by the plantsman William Paul (England).

Synonym: Crataegus laevigata 'Coccinea Plena'. Also sold as Crataegus x media 'Paul's Scarlet'.

Suitable for a sunny or partially shaded position in any well-drained soil. Crataegus laevigata 'Paul's Scarlet can handle dry conditions reasonably well once established, and is suitable for coastal gardens and windy sites. Does not require much pruning other than the removal of dead, damaged, or crossing branches in autumn or winter. Susceptible to rust, leaf spot, and blight. Frost hardy (to USDA zone 4).

Crataegus laevigata 'Paul's Scarlet' looks absolutely magnificent when smothered with frilly, rosy pink blossoms in mid spring. I just wish it would flower for a longer time! 

crocosmia-crocosmiiflora

Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora

Montbretia

Perennial in the Iris family with light green, long and narrow leaves (90 x 2 cm) that spreads with underground rhizomes. Sprays of bright orange flowers held on long, thin, zig-zag stems, arising from the foliage clumps during late summer. Can become invasive in mild, wet climates as it tolerates many adverse conditions including grazing. The seeds are not a problem, since not many are produced, but the plants can multiply and spread rapidly via their corms and rhizomes. In New Zealand and some other parts of the world Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora is regarded as an environmental weed, competing with ground covering shrubs and native seedlings.

Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora is a hybrid bred in France in 1880 by crossing two African species Crocosmia aurea and Crocosmia pottsii.

Prefers a sunny, sheltered spot in well-draining soil, but will adapt to most soils and tolerates partial shade, heat, and moist soils. Quite drought tolerant, but benefits from an occasional watering during exceptionally dry weather. Frost hardy (zones 5-9). In cold climates, the corms can be lifted and stored in a cool, dry place until spring. 

Easy to grow and consistently produces lots of flowers. Divide the clump after a few years to maintain vigour. Suitable for containers and cut flowers. Beautiful bright colours.