Plant Guide

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Flower display

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 or pink 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.

lychnis-coronaria

Lychnis coronaria

dusty miller, rose campion

Evergreen, mounding perennial with silvery grey stems and foliage. Lance-shaped leaves to about 8 cm long. Flowers during early summer with bright pink or purple-red flowers, 3 cm across. 'Alba' is a white-flowering cultivar. 

Prefers a sunny position or partially shaded position in any well-draining, moderately fertile soil. Cut back flower stems after flowering. Self-seeds.

Gorgeous plant with vivid flower colours and lovely soft grey leaves. Looks great as a ground cover under the grey-leafed Pyrus salicifolia 'Pendula'. Start with a few plants to gradually fill a space in your garden.

mackaya-bella

Mackaya bella

forest bell bush, river bell

Evergreen spring-flowering shrub, endemic to Southern Africa where it grows as an understory plant in forests and along stream-banks. Glossy dark green leaves, 7-13 cm long, arranged in opposite pairs, with wavy and sparsely toothed margins. Pale lilac, tubular flowers, 3-5 cm long, marked with delicate, darker coloured lines, arranged in racemes.

Synonym: Asystasia bella.

Thrives in deep shade and any well-drained soil. Low drought tolerance. Flowering tends to be encouraged by a few hours of sunlight, but foliage may turn yellow when planted in full sun. Responds well to feeding. Water regularly during hot dry summers. Prune after flowering to maintain a compact shape. Tolerates light frosts (zones 9-11).

Attractive plant with lush foliage and lovely spring flowers. Perfect choice for shady areas, in particular as a filler or a backdrop for other shade-lovers.

magnolia-athene

Magnolia 'Athene'

Deciduous tree with an upright habit when young and a rounded canopy when mature, 5-7 m tall, flowering from about 3 years of age with large, scented flowers in late winter and early spring. Developed in New Zealand by Felix Jury during the 1960s from a cross between Magnolia x soulangeana 'Lennei 'Alba' and Magnolia 'Mark Jury'. Flowers have a cup-and-saucer shape, with the outer petals opening out to form the saucer and the inner petals remaining more or less closed in a loose cup. Flowers are white, flushed with dark rosy pink-red at the base. Large green, ovate to obovate leaves.

Prefers a position in full sun or partial shade, in well-draining neutral to acidic soil. Likes a cool root-run, which over time will be provided by the shade from its own canopy. After planting, cover the ground with mulch to keep the root-zone cool. For areas with poorly drained soils, consider planting Magnolia 'Athene' in a raised bed or on a slope. Protect from strong winds. No pruning required other than shaping and removing dead branches. Frost hardy.

Excellent specimen tree, producing masses of large flowers from a young age. 

magnolia-iolanthe

Magnolia 'Iolanthe'

Deciduous tree with rounded canopy, flowering on bare branches from a young age during late winter and early spring. Hybrid developed in New Zealand by Felix Jury from a cross between Magnolia x soulangeana 'Lennei' and Magnolia 'Mark Jury'. Furry grey flower buds open to large bowl-shaped flowers, about 20 cm across, white inside, and flushed with pink on the outside. Conspicuous reddish stamens in the center. Ovate to obovate, fresh green leaves. 

Prefers a sheltered position in full sun or partial shade in slightly acidic, well-drained soil. Deciduous magnolias generally don't like being transplanted, so select a spot where it can stay. Cover the soil with mulch after planting to keep the roots cool. Avoid disturbing the shallow root system too much, and underplanting is not recommended until after the plant is well established.  No pruning required other than removal of dead or damaged branches, and occasional shaping. Frost hardy.

Magnificent specimen tree for flower display.

magnolia-manchu-fan

Magnolia 'Manchu Fan'

Upright, deciduous tree with masses of goblet-shaped flowers on bare branches in spring. Hybrid, originating from a cross between Magnolia x soulangeana 'Lennei Alba' and Magnolia veitchii, bred by Tod Gresham. Somewhat similar to Magnolia denudata, but smaller-growing with a later, longer flowering season. Flowers are white, flushed with dark pink at the base of the outer petals (tepals). Obovate, light to mid green leaves, to 20 cm long and 10 cm wide.

Prefers a sheltered position in full sun or partial shade and well-drained, slightly acidic soil. Cover the soil with mulch after planting to keep the root zone cool. No pruning required other than removing dead or damaged branches.

Magnificent specimen tree, suitable for the smaller garden.

magnolia-strawberry-fields

Magnolia 'Strawberry Fields'

Deciduous, upright columnar tree with large vibrant wine-red flowers during late winter and early spring. Flowers open from large, furry grey flower-buds to loose goblets of 10-15 cm across and finally to star shapes up to 25 cm wide with the innermost petals remaining closed. Hybrid developed in New Zealand, possibly originating from a cross between Magnolia 'Spectrum' and Magnolia 'Vulcan'.

Prefers a sheltered, sunny or partially shaded position in well-draining, slightly acidic soil. Like many other shallow-rooted plants, deciduous magnolias like a cool root run and growth tends to be better once the surrounding plants or the trees themselves cast a shadow over the rooting zones. Mulch at the time of planting will also help with this. For soils with poor drainage, consider planting Magnolia 'Strawberry Fields' in a raised bed or on a slope.

Magnificent specimen tree for flower display over a long period from late winter.