Plant Guide

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Flower display

hardenbergia-violacea

Hardenbergia violacea

false sarsaparilla, purple coral pea, happy wanderer, native lilac, vine lilac, lilac vine

Vigorous evergreen climber with wiry stems, native to Australia. Occurs naturally in a variety of habitats, including coastal areas and mountains. Simple, oval to lance-shaped, mid to dark green, leathery leaves to 12 cm long, with prominent veins. Violet purple pea-like flowers, 1 cm across, smother the pant in pendent racemes during mid to late winter and early spring.

Synonym: Hardenbergia monophylla

Hardy to -70C, but some damage may occur at lighter frosts. Flowers best in full sun and well-draining neutral or acidic soil, but tolerates a wide range of growing conditions. Has a low water requirement once established. Prune hard after flowering to keep compact, encourage new growth, and to prevent the plant from becoming leggy at the base.

Ideal climber for flower display from mid winter. May also be grown as a ground cover, spilling over banks. Suitable as an indoor plant in bright light.

helleborus-argutifolius

Helleborus argutifolius

Corsican hellebore, holly-leaved hellebore, Corsican rose

Evergreen, clump-forming perennial native to Corsica and Sardinia. Large, leathery leaves with three toothed leaflets 10-20 cm long and 4-5 cm across. Unlike Helleborus orientalis, Helleborus argutifolius has no basal foliage; the leaves are carried on stout, upright stems. Clusters of bowl-shaped pale green flowers to 5 cm wide, during late winter and early spring. Closely related to Helleborus lividus with which it hybridises freely. Size varies with growing conditions and may also reflect genetic variation.

Synonyms: Helleborus corsicus, Helleborus lividus subsp. corsicus 

Less frost-hardy than Helleborus orientalis, but tolerates medium frosts. Adaptable to most well-draining soils except heavy clay. Shade tolerant, but flowers best in a sunny position. Shady conditions promote the growth of long, weak stems. Self-seeds easily. Thinning of the seedlings is advisable so that they don't smother the original plant.

helleborus-anna's-red

Helleborus orientalis

Lenten rose, Winter rose, Lenten hellebore, Oriental hellebore

Clump-forming, evergreen, relatively slow growing perennial with palmately compound leaves and nodding flowers during winter. Native to Greece, Turkey and around the Black Sea. Leathery dark green leaves with 7 to 9 coarsely toothed leaflets, 15-25 cm long. Flowers (5-8 cm across) resemble single rose flowers, and are held above the foliage in loose clusters. Colours range from pure white to pink or dark red, often spotted. All parts are poisonous. Sap may cause skin irritation. In cold climates, Helleborus orientalis is semi-evergreen.

Most hellebores sold as Helleborus orientalis belong to a large group of hybrids, now collectively known as Helleborus x hybridus. Many of the latter have their own name. For example, the stunning deep red flowers in the close-up photograph belong to the hybrid Helleborus 'Anna's Red'.

Prefers partial or full shade and moist, well-drained neutral or slightly alkaline soil. Tolerates drier conditions once established. Dislikes being disturbed, so may take a while to recover after transplanting. Naturalises in suitable climates. Plants are propagated from seed or by dividing large plants in late summer. Old, unsightly leaves can be removed in autumn before the flowers and new leaves appear.

Great ground covering plant for shady gardens. Since the flowers are quite subtle and delicate both in colour and size, they are best used en masse in smaller areas. The leaves contrast beautifully with hostas or ferns. Suitable as cut flowers, but flowers last longer when you allow them to float in a shallow bowl of water.

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.

iochroma-cyaneum

Iochroma cyaneum

Fast growing evergreen shrub with downy shoots and felted leaves, native to northwestern South America. Dark bluish purple tubular flowers, 6 cm long, in clusters, mainly during summer. Belongs to the nightshade family. All parts are poisonous.

Synonym: Iochroma tubulosum

Iochroma cyaneum prefers a sheltered position in full sun or partial shade. Prune in early spring. Tolerates frosts to about -7 oC once established.

Gorgeous, dark purple flowers contrasting beautifully with the mid green leaves. Plant in the back of borders for flower display during summer and as a filler or green backdrop for other plants during the rest of the year. 

jacaranda-mimosifolia

Jacaranda mimosifolia

blue Jacaranda, fern tree, black poui, Brazilian rosewood, blue haze tree

Fast growing, deciduous tree, native to South America, with a spreading crown, bright green, fern-like leaves and purplish blue flowers in late spring or summer. Belongs to the Bignoniaceae family. Large (to about 45 cm long) leaves, twice pinnately compound, divided into many smaller (to 1 cm long) leaflets, turning yellow in autumn. Tubular flowers, 2.5-5 cm long, grouped in 30 cm long clusters, forming a blue carpet after falling to the ground. Woody, 5 cm wide, reddish brown seed pods with many small, winged seeds. Widely grown as an ornamental tree. In some parts of the world (e.g. South Africa and Queensland, Australia) Jacaranda mimosifolia is regarded as an invasive plant, posing a threat to the native vegetation.

Synonyms: Jacaranda chelonia, Jacaranda ovalifolia.

Prefers a sheltered position in full sun and very well-draining soil. Drought tolerant. Not suitable for waterlogged or clay soils. Tolerates, but does not grow and flower as well in, partial shade. No pruning required. In fact, pruning tends to destroy the natural umbrella-shape of the canopy by encouraging the tree to produce vertical shoots. Survives brief spells of moderate frosts (to about -8oC).                                 

A gorgeous specimen or shade tree with magnificent flowers and delicate, graceful foliage, but make sure you have enough space. Not a tidy tree, so plant in a position where leaf and flower litter are not a problem. Flowers may stain hard surfaces.

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.

lagunaria-patersonii

Lagunaria patersonii

Norfolk Island hibiscus, pyramid tree, Queensland white oak, itch tree, cow itch tree

Australian, evergreen tree or shrub with a columnar to pyramidal shape, endemic to Lord Howe Island, Norfolk Island, and parts of Queensland. Oval, olive to grey green leaves, 5-10 cm long. Flowering in summer and early autumn with hibiscus-like, 4-8 cm wide flowers, pale pink, fading to white. Stamens are arranged in a single, central column, typical for members of the Malvaceae (mallow family). Flowers are followed by furry seed capsules, filled with tiny hairs which are like fiber-glass splinters and cause itching and skin inflammation. Lagunaria patersonii 'Royal Purple' has crimson flowers.

Prefers a sunny position in well-draining soil. Does not like wet feet. Not suitable for heavy clay soils. Can handle considerable drought and copes well in poor soils. Ideal for coastal gardens and windy locations. Tolerates light frosts. 

Versatile plant for flower display during late summer. Suitable for screening and hedging purposes. Tends to have branches and foliage all the way along the stem from ground level, but can be grown as a clear-stemmed specimen by regularly removing new growth from the main trunk. The canopy is relatively narrow, so even though Lagunaria patersonii can grow quite tall, it is suitable for smaller spaces. Plant this tree in areas where the seed pods cannot pose problems (i.e. away from pools and public spaces, in particular those frequented by children). 

lavandula-dentata

Lavandula dentata

toothed lavender, French lavender, fringed lavender

Strongly aromatic evergreen shrub, woody at the base, with upright branches, grey-green leaves and lilac flowers for most of the year. Native to the Mediterranean region, the Cape Verde Islands and Madeira. Leaves are sticky, linear, 3-4 cm long, 0.5 cm wide. Easy to distinguish from other lavender species by the bluntly toothed leaf margins. Flowers are arranged in tight spikes, topped with pale purple bracts, to about 5 cm long on stems held above the foliage. Attracts bees and butterflies. Lavandula dentata does not have the typical lavender fragrance. Its smell is more aromatic than "flowery", rather like a blend of rosemary and lavender scents. 

Prefers a hot and sunny position in well-drained neutral to alkaline soil, not too fertile, but adapts well to a range of situations. It is tougher and less fussy in terms of growing conditions than most other lavender species. Susceptible to root rot in poorly drained soils. Very drought-tolerant once established. Tolerates light to medium frosts (to about -7oC). Prune after flowering to keep compact and remove spent flowers.

Mainly grown for its silvery grey foliage and subtle flowers. Suitable for topiary and hedging purposes. May also be grown in containers. Excellent choice for coastal gardens and for hot and dry areas.

lavandula-stoechas-patleigh

Lavandula stoechas 'Patleigh'

Vigorous, upright and compact, evergreen shrub with purple flowers and showy pale yellow bracts in spring. The flowers themselves are tiny, but are tightly arranged in a spike-like inflorescence to about 4 cm long, or to 6 cm long including the terminal bracts. Opposite pairs of linear, aromatic, yelow-green leaves (approximately 4 cm x 0.5 cm). May self-seed, but seedlings do not necessarily have the exactly same appearance as the parents. Flowers attract bees and butterflies.

Lavandula stoechas 'Patleigh' originated in New Zealand from a cross between two unnamed Lavandula stoechas parents.

Grows best in full sun and any soil type as long as it is well-draining. Tolerates wind, drought, and coastal conditions. Remove spent flowers to encourage additional flower production. Lightly prune in autumn to keep the plant compact. Tolerates moderate frosts only (zones 8-9).

I love the colour combination of the flowers. Lavandula stoechas 'Patleigh' seems a particular tough plant. This would make a gorgeous low hedge. The leaves are aromatic (a rosemary-like scent rather than the fragrance of English lavender flowers)

leonotis-leonurus

Leonotis leonurus

lion's ear, lion's tail, wild dagga, red dagga, wild hemp, cape hemp, minaret flower

Evergreen shrub in the mint family (Lamiaceae), native to southern Africa. Flowering in late summer and autumn with bright orange, tubular flowers arranged in whorls along upright, four-angled stems. Becomes woody at the base and herbaceous elsewhere, so is more accurately specified as a sub-shrub. Opposite, densely hairy, linear leaves to 10 cm long by 2 cm wide. Is reported to have hallucinogenic and medicinal properties. Naturalised in various parts of the world, including Western Australia and New South Wales in Australia, Hawaii and California.

Prefers a position in full sun, but tolerates semi-shade. Can be grown in any soil type as long as it is well-draining. Drought-tolerant once established. Cut back to near ground level in winter to maintain a tidy habit. Tolerates moderate frosts (zones 9-11). Suitable for coastal gardens.

Striking plant when flowering with brilliant orange flowers. Good for the back of borders or sunny hot banks.

liatris-spicata

Liatris spicata

(dense or marsh) blazing star, (Kansas, prairie, or spike) gay feather, button snake root, button snakewort

Clump-forming herbaceous perennial, native to moist habitats in eastern USA and parts of Canada. Long flower spikes with rosy purple, fluffy flower heads. From early summer, flowers open gradually from the top of the spike downwards. Grass-like leaves, mid green, 10-30 cm long, becoming progressively shorter along the flowering stems. Several cultivars are available, including white flowering, and dwarf forms. Attracts butterflies, bees, moths and hummingbirds.

Liatris spicata has numerous synonyms, including Kuhnia spicata, Lacinaria spicata, Suprago spicata, and Serratula spicata.

Prefers a sunny position in any moist, but well-drained soil. Also grows well in partial shade, and, except in sandy soils, is able to cope with some drought. Cut back to near ground level after flowering. Can be propagated by dividing the tuberous roots in early spring. Frost hardy.

Looks best when planted in groups in the middle of borders, in particular when combined with plants that have different flower shapes, such as daisies, Echinacea, and dahlias. Suitable for coastal gardens. Long-lasting cut flower, and can be dried too.

liriope-muscari

Liriope muscari

lilyturf, big blue lilyturf, border grass, monkey grass

Evergreen, clump-forming, herbaceous perennial, native to East Asia, where it occurs as an under-story plant in forests. Glossy, dark green, grass-like, arching leaves. Flowering in summer and autumn with small purple flowers, tightly packed in erect spikes. They resemble the flowers of the grape hyacinth, Muscari, hence the specific epithet. Fibrous roots, often with small tubers. Several cultivars are available, including a white flowering form and a variegated cultivar.

Liriope muscari prefers a sheltered position in partial or full shade, and any well-draining soil. Tolerates sun, drought, and coastal conditions. If leaves turn brown in winter, they can be cut back (or mowed) before the new foliage appears. To propagate, divide the plant and replant straight away. Generally disease-free. Hardy to about -15 deg C.

Excellent choice for under-planting en masse. Neat edging and ground cover plant. Suitable for containers. Combine e.g. with lime-green foliage plants, ferns, spring-flowering bulbs, or hostas.

lobelia-erinus-lucia-dark-blue

Lobelia erinus

edging lobelia, garden lobelia, trailing lobelia, bedding lobelia, annual lobelia

Dainty herbaceous perennial, native to South Africa, flowering from spring to autumn with small blue to violet, pale-centered flowers in loose panicles, fine stems and tiny leaves.  Flowers are 1-2 cm across, and have five-lobed corollas with three larger and two smaller lobes. Lower leaves are oval in shape, 1-3 cm long, often flushed with a reddish-purple tinge, and have toothed margins. Leaves on flowering stems are linear, and usually have an entire margin. Many cultivars are available, with a trailing or upright habit, and flower colours ranging from shades of purple and blue, to pink, cerise, and white. Pictured here is Lobelia erinus 'Lucia Dark Blue', a trailing variety with gorgeous sky-blue flowers.

Prefers a sunny position (partially shaded in areas with hot summers) in well-draining soil. Looks best when the weather is cool, but usually stops flowering during summer when temperatures become too high. If that happens to your plants, you can cut them back to encourage another flush of flowers later in the season. Lobelia erinus 'Lucia Dark Blue' is more heat tolerant than many other varieties. For best performance, apply compost and fertiliser once a year. Fertilise container plants once a month. Suitable for coastal areas. Tolerates light frosts, and in colder climates Lobelia erinus is generally grown as an annual.

Trailing varieties are particularly attractive when allowed to spill over the edges of containers, window boxes and hanging baskets. Upright varieties make great edging plants and colourful additions to rock gardens.

Luculia gratissima

Luculia gratissima

pink swa

Medium to large evergreen shrub or sometimes a small tree with ovate to lance-shaped leaves which turn orange-red before falling. Very fragrant, tubular, rosy pink flowers in terminal large clusters of about 15 cm across during winter.

Prefers a sheltered position in partial shade. Prune after flowering to prevent the shrub from becoming straggly. Tolerates light frosts only. If frost damage has occurred, but is not too severe, the plant will recover after cutting it back to healthy leaves.