Plant Guide

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Flower display

cydonia-oblonga

Cydonia oblonga

quince

Deciduous tree in the Rosaceae family, probably originating from to South-west Asia, and cultivated in the Mediterranean region for thousands of years. Dull green, oval to elliptical leaves, 5-11 cm long, covered with very fine hairs. Foliage turns yellow in autumn. Flowers in spring with 5 cm wide blossoms, white and usually flushed with pink, emerging from pink flower buds in spring. Round or pear-shaped, fragrant, 9-13 cm long fruits, ripening to golden yellow in autumn. Quinces are used, among other things, to make jellies, jams, puddings, wine and cider. A number of improved cultivars have been developed, including 'Van Deman', 'Smyrna', 'Vrajna' and 'Champion', differing in growth habit, leaf size, fruit production, fruit shape, and hardiness.

Cydonia oblonga has a long history in the Middle East, and was also revered by the ancient Greeks and Romans. The 'Apple of Discord' Paris gave to Aphrodite when he was asked by Zeus to select the most beautiful woman, was a quince. He chose Aphrodite because she offered him in return the love of the most beautiful woman on earth, Helen of Sparta.

Prefers full sun and light soils. Tolerates most soil types as long as they are well-draining. Copes with less than all-day sun, but doesn't fruit well in a shady position. Requires a cold period (like apple trees, but shorter) to encourage flowering, and a warm summer for the fruits to ripen. Protect from strong winds. Self-fertile, so you only need one tree for fruit production. Prune in winter to open up the center of the tree, and train to a central leader with secondary leaders fanning out.  Without pruning and training, Cydonia oblonga tends to form an irregular tree with somewhat crooked branches from quite low to the ground. Frost hardy (zone 6).

An interesting specimen tree with gorgeous spring blossoms, and unusual, bright (but not glossy) yellow fruits weighing down the branches in autumn. For a lovely colour combination later in the growing season, plant Cydonia oblonga near shrubs with deep purple flowers in late summer and autumn, such as Salvia 'Black Knight', or blue flowers, such as Dichroa versicolor.

daphne-odora-alba

Daphne odora 'Alba'

Compact evergreen shrub with deep green foliage and highly fragrant white flowers in late winter. Narrow, leathery leaves to 8 cm long. Waxy flowers in clusters of about 4 cm wide.

Prefers slightly-acid soil and a sheltered, partially shaded position with protection from hot afternoon sun. Copes with shade. The soil must be well-draining to prevent rootrot. You could raise the planting bed to improve drainage if necessary. No pruning required other than a light tip prune once a year.

Choose a position where you can enjoy the exquisite perfume, e.g. near the entrance to your house, next to paths, beneath the bathroom window, or grow in a container and move it when in flower to where you like. Great for woodland gardens.

Daphne odora is susceptible to non-treatable virus diseases that may cause yellowing, mottling and distortion of the leaves, so make sure to start with a healthy plant with deep green foliage. Avoid working the soil around the shrub as much as possible; daphnes don't like their roots disturbed. 

Delphinum (hybrid)

Delphinum (hybrid)

Clump-forming perennial with mid-green, divided foliage. Upright flower spikes in blue, purple, white and pink shades. Dormant in winter. New leaves appear in spring. Cut back the first flower stems after flowering (late spring-early summer) for a second flush of flowers during late summer-autumn. Will require staking in windy areas.

duranta-erecta-geisha-girl

Duranta erecta 'Geisha Girl'

geisha girl pigeon berry

Fast growing, evergreen shrub with glossy green leaves and cascading branches. Purple-blue flowers with wrinkly white edges, mainly during summer, followed by orange-yellow berries. Poisonous leaves and berries. Attracts birds and butterflies.

Duranta repens is a synonym for Duranta erecta. The species itself is native to Southern USA, Central America, the Carribean, and South America, and has become an environmental weed in several warmer parts of the world. The newer cultivars, such as 'Geisha Girl' are thought to be less invasive.

Prefers a sunny position in any well-draining soil. Water regularly until established. Fertilise in spring with an all-purpose fertiliser. Prune after flowering to keep the plant compact. Tolerates light frost (zones 9-12). Can be trained as a standard, grown as a shrub, or trimmed as a hedge.

What a pity this shrub is so toxic! When flowering, it looks absolutely stunning.

echinops-ritro

Echinops ritro

small globe thistle, blue globe thistle, steel globe thistle, globe flower, blue hedgehog

Eurasian, herbaceous perennial in the Asteraceae family. Grey-green, deeply cut, evergreen foliage. Spherical, steel-blue flower heads, 5 cm across, on long, silvery stems in late summer and autumn. Attracts bees and butterflies. Birds like the seeds.

Prefers a sheltered position in full sun and poor, well-draining soil. Tolerates partial shade and dry conditions. Suitable for coastal gardens. Stems are quite strong, but staking may be required in windy locations. Cut back to near ground level after flowering. Leave the flowering stems on the plant if you wish to encourage self-seeding. Cutting spent flowering stems back early in the season helps the plant to produce a second flush of flowers. Divide the plant after 3-4 years.  Echinops ritro is generally trouble-free and easy to grow.

Attractive contrasting plant with globe-shaped flowers in stunning metallic blue, set off beautifully against the silvery stems and greyish foliage. Combines well with tall grasses that flower at about the same time, such as Miscanthus sinensis cultivars. Excellent for dried and fresh cut flower arrangements.

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.

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.

eucomis-reuben

Eucomis comosa

pineapple lily

Originally from South Africa, Eucomis comosa is a winter-dormant bulbous plant with a basal rosette of strap-shaped fleshy, bright green leaves with maroon spots. The cream, waxy flowers are arranged in tight spikes with a tuft of green bracts at the top. There are several hybrids, such as 'Sparkling Burgundy' which emerges in spring with burgundy-red foliage, changes to green later and reverts back once the flowers fade. Its flowers are dark pink and the spikes have a tuft of purple bracts at the top. The photograph that shows hydrangeas in the background is of Eucomis comosa 'Reuben', bred by New Zealand grower Eddie Welsh.

Synonym: Eucomis punctata

Prefers a sunny position in any well-draining soil that is relatively dry in winter and moist in summer. Tolerates partial shade, but the best flower and foliage colours are produced in full sun. Suitable for USDA zone 8, but in areas where heavy frosts may occur, Eucomis comosa is best grown in a container and moved to a frost-free location during winter. Bulbs can also be lifted each autumn, stored in a dry medium, such as peat, and planted out again in spring. Easy to divide, but smaller bulbs may not flower in the first year after division. 

Beautiful plant, in particular the pink-flowering varieties. As cut flowers they last for many weeks.

euphorbia-epithymoides

Euphorbia epithymoides

cushion spurge

Clump-forming perennial plant, flowering with bright acid-yellow 'flower' heads, 5-8 cm wide, in late spring. Botanically speaking, the parts resembling flower petals are modified leaves, and the actual flowers are very tiny. Simple, elliptical to linear leaves, 4-6 cm long. Foliage tends to colour up during autumn in shades of red, purple and orange. The common name refers to the plant's cushion-like growth habit. All parts are toxic. Sap may irritate skin and eyes.

Synonym: Euphorbia polychroma.

Grows well in full sun, but in hot areas a partially shaded position with morning sun only is best. Too much shade will result in a leggy, open shape. Any well-draining soil. Not tolerant of waterlogged soil and reasonably tolerant of dry soils. Self-seeds. Can become weedy, but is easy to control by cutting the stems back to about one-third after flowering. This will also keep the plant compact. Wear gloves when pruning to prevent skin contact with the milky sap that seeps from the cut stems. Frost hardy. Evergreen in areas with mild winters, but cut back to near ground level to maintain a well-shaped plant.

You can create gorgeous colour combinations by planting Euphorbia epithymoides together with blue or purple varieties of Ajuga reptans, Acquilegia, GeraniumIris, Lobelia, or with purple leafed Heuchera or Loropetalum chinense 'Burgundy'. The colour is particularly attractive in the shade, and if you wish to make the most of the beautiful bright colour on a well-shaped, compact plant, then select a partially shaded position. Can be used as a ground cover, but does not spread, so make sure you plant enough plants to produce a good cover.

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.

fuchsia-triphylla-gartenmeister-bonstedt

Fuchsia triphylla 'Gartenmeister Bonstedt'

Free-flowering evergreen shrub with pendulous, trumpet-shaped bright orange-red flowers. The leaves are green with bronze-red and have purple undersides. May get damaged by light frosts, but generally survives. Needs shelter and even soil moisture.

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. 

gordonia-axillaris

Gordonia axillaris

fried egg plant

Evergreen tree or large shrub with dark green foliage and attractive dappled orange brown bark, native to south-east Asia. Leathery leaves to 15 cm long with smooth, shallowly lobed or toothed margins. They turn scarlet before dropping, a few at a time throughout the year. White flowers with crepe paper-like petals and conspicuous yellow stamens, 12 cm wide, during midwinter and early spring. Flowers drop before browning, with the stamens facing upwards, resembling a carpet of fried eggs.

Gordonia axillaris belongs to the Theaceae, the tea family (same family as camellia). It has been renamed Franklinia axillaris, but is also known as Polyspora axillaris.

Prefers a partially shaded position in well-drained, slightly acidic soil. Happy in full sun as long as there is adequate moisture during dry periods. Fertlise regularly to prevent leaves from turning yellow. No pruning required or only a light prune in spring after flowering. Hardy to about -7oC.