Plant Guide

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Flower display

mandevilla-laxa

Mandevilla laxa

Chilean jasmine

South American, twining vine with clusters of very fragrant, funnel-shaped, pure white flowers in summer. The flowers are 4 to 6 cm wide with a 3-5 cm long tube, and are followed by long, bean-like fruit pods. All parts of the plant contain a poisonous, milky sap that may cause skin and eye irritations when touched. Evergreen in warm climates, but behaves as a deciduous plant in colder climates.

Synonym: Mandevilla suaveolens.

Grows best in a position that doesn't get too hot in summer, with well draining soil where it receives morning sun and afternoon shade. Not suitable for heavy clay. The roots don't like being disturbed, so avoid digging nearby. Can be cut back hard. Tolerates light to moderate frost (zones 9-11).

Intensely fragrant flowers, especially in the evenings. May climb into adjacent trees by winding its stems around the branches, but is quite easy to keep under control. Lovely climber for archways, pergolas and fences. 

melia-azedarach

Melia azedarach

Persian lilac, Indian lilac, Cape lilac, bead tree, chinaberry tree, syringa berrytree, white cedar, Ceylon cedar, Texas umbrella, umbrella tree

Deciduous tree with a rounded canopy and glossy foliage, native to northern and eastern parts of Australia, and South East Asia. Belongs to the Mahogany family (Meliaceae). Leaves are 2-3 times odd-pinnately compound, to 50 cm long, and consist of 3-8 cm long leaflets with entire or lobed and/or toothed margins. Foliage is mid green, turning yellow in autumn. Small, pale purple to mauve and white, fragrant flowers in loose panicles during spring after the new leaves have emerged. Flowers are followed in autumn by 1.5 cm wide bead-like fruit, smooth and green initially, wrinkled and yellow when mature, remaining on the tree for a long time during winter. Has become invasive in some parts of the world. Poisonous fruits and foliage.

Synonyms (among many others): Melia australis, Melia japonica, Melia sempervirens.

Prefers a sunny position in well-draining soil. Copes well with partial shade. Adaptable to a wide range of conditions, but sensitive to waterlogged soils. Can handle considerable drought. Prune for shape to encourage a good branching structure. Suitable for coastal areas. Melia azedarach has a shallow root system and is best planted at some distance from hard surfaces. Tolerates moderate frosts (zones 8-12).

Attractive shade or specimen tree with graceful foliage, perfumed spring flowers, and a lovely display of yellow fruit in winter. When in flower, the canopy has a beautiful soft, smokey mauve appearance. Also suitable for erosion control and timber production.

metrosideros-carminea

Metrosideros carminea

akakura, carmine rata, crimson rata

Evergreen climber, endemic to New Zealand, but only occasionally found in its natural habitat of coastal and lowland forests in the northern half of the North Island. Climbs by adhering to tree trunks and other rough surfaces with aerial, adventitious roots. When the juvenile plant eventually reaches the light, it gradually transforms into the shrubby, non-climbing, flowering, adult form. Cuttings from an adult plant will result in a small spreading shrub rather than a climber. Shaded parts of an adult shrub may produce juvenile climbing or creeping stems. Glossy, dark green, rounded leaves, 1-2 cm long on juvenile plants and 2-4 cm long on adult plants. Bright crimson flowers in dense clusters from mid winter to mid spring.

Synonym: Metrosideros diffusa

Prefers a position in well-draining soil. If you intend to use Metrosideros carminea as a climber, then find a spot in the shade, preferably where it can grow towards the light. If you want to grow it as a shrub, then a sunny position is best. Suitable for coastal gardens. Once established, the crimson rata tolerates drought, and light to moderate frosts (USDA zones 8-11). The adult form copes well with exposed, windy conditions. Generally trouble free.

Very tough, but slow growing plant. Spectacular when in flower. Worth the wait!

metrosideros-excelsa

Metrosideros excelsa

pohutukawa, New Zealand pohutukawa, New Zealand Christmas tree

Evergreen, usually multi-stemmed tree, often developing a spreading canopy, endemic to New Zealand. Occurs mainly in coastal regions of the northern part of the North Island. Leaves of mature trees are covered with a fine tomentum, lightly on the upper surface and densely on the lower surface, giving the foliage a grey-green appearance. Leaves are elliptic to oblong, to 10 cm long and 5 cm wide, arranged in pairs. Bright red flowers begin to appear in November, and continue to open during December and January (New Zealand summer). Individual trees may vary in flowering time, and in flower colour shade and intensity. Flowers attract nectar-feeding birds. Grey, deeply furrowed bark. Metrosideros excelsa trees often develop clusters of aerial roots from the trunk and the lower branches, some of which may reach the ground.

Prefers a position in full sun and well-draining soil. Does not like wet feet. Very wind-tolerant. Good for coastal areas with poor soils. Tolerates dry conditions. Copes well with moderate frosts once established, but is frost tender when young. No major pests and diseases. Root system can become invasive, so it is best not to plant Metrosideros excelsa close to buildings or near drainage systems. Use drought-tolerant plants for under-planting.

Magnificent tree, smothered with flowers around Christmas time in the Southern Hemisphere. Use as a specimen tree in large gardens. If you have insufficient space, select one of the smaller growing selections, such as 'Scarlet Pimpernel' or 'Vibrance'.

michelia-doltsopa-silver-cloud

Michelia doltsopa 'Silver Cloud'

Small to medium, mostly evergreen tree with pyramidal canopy, long leathery leaves and masses of scented flowers in late winter and spring.  Dark green leaves, paler beneath, up to about 17 cm long. Leaves tend to hang. Floppy, multi-petalled creamy white magnolia-like flowers emerge from bronzy-brown, furry buds. In colder areas, Michelia doltsopa 'Silver Cloud' behaves like a semi-evergreen.

'Silver Cloud' was originally selected by Duncan and Davies in New Zealand. It has a smaller and neater growth habit than the parent species and flowers from a younger age (after 2-3 years). Michelia doltsopa itself originates from western China and eastern Himalayas.

Prefers a sheltered position in full sun and slightly acidic, well-draining soil. Keep roots cool and moist in summer. Requires little maintenance other than gradually removing the lower branches to lift the crown, and maybe some shaping of the canopy. Flowers may get damaged by frost.

muscari-armeniacum

Muscari armeniacum

grape hyacinth, Armenian grape hyacinth

Small, perennial, early spring-flowering bulb to about 20 cm tall. Slightly fragrant blue, purple or white flowers in dense 5 cm long spikes, resembling clusters of upside-down grapes. Narrow, linear leaves appear in autumn and die down in summer after which they can be removed. Reproduces by offsets from the main bulb and seed dispersal.

Occurs naturally in forests and meadows of Eastern Mediterranean regions.

Prefers full sun or partial shade and well drained soil. Generally trouble-free, but susceptible to root rot in wet sites. Divide large clumps in summer.

Looks great when planted in groups.

myosotidium-hortensia

Myosotidium hortensia

Chatham Island forget-me-not

Evergreen perennial with large heart- or kidney-shaped leaves, deeply veined, 15 to 30 cm wide. Large heads, 10 to 15 cm wide, of sky blue flowers with white centers in spring. Native to the Chatham Islands.

Ideal for shady areas. Tolerates full sun as long as the root system is kept cool. Requires fertile, well-draining soil. Susceptible to fungal diseases, in particular in moist sites. Needs protection from slugs and snails. Hardy to -12oC.

Combine wiith fine-leafed plants, such as ferns and grasses.

nerine-sarniensis

Nerine sarniensis

Guernsey lily, Jersey lily, red nerine, berglelie

Perennial bulb, native to South Africa, with strap-shaped leaves and umbels of up to 20 lily-like flowers. The plant is dormant during summer, sending up flower stems in early autumn, with new leaves emerging soon afterwards. The leaves are rather like those of Agapanthus. The bright reddish orange flowers are funnel-shaped with recurved petals and protruding stamens. Breeding has led to several hybrids and cultivars with flower colours ranging from white to pink, red, and purple.

It is not clear how bulbs of this South African plant ended up on the island of Guernsey more than 300 years ago, but they continue to be grown there for cut flower production.

Nerine sarniensis prefers well-draining soil and full sun or a position where it receives sunlight for at least half of the day. Plant with the top part of the bulb (neck) exposed. Keep dry during summer, but, depending on the amount of rain fall, regular watering may be required during the growing season. Careful with fertilising, in particular with fertilsers high in nitrogen; this may encourage leaf-growth at the expense of flower production. Flowering can be erratic and fluctuating from year to year, possibly due to variations in environmental conditions.Tolerates brief periods of moderate frosts. Propagate by division, detaching the new bulbs that form around the main bulb, and replanting them straight away.

Allow this beauty to be the star of early autumn and combine with plants that take over that role at other times of the year. Flowers last well on water. If you live in an area with cold winters, you can still enjoy Nerine sarniensis by growing the plant in a container and moving it indoors to overwinter in a well-lit place with good ventilation.

nerium-oleander

Nerium oleander

Oleander

Evergreen shrub or small (usually multi-stemmed) tree, flowering in summer with 2.5-5 cm wide, white, pink, or reddish pink flowers in clusters at the end of the branches. Dark green, lanceolate to linear leaves, 5-20 cm long, 1 to 3 cm wide, arranged in twos or threes. Flowers may be, but are not always, scented. All parts of the plant are poisonous. Indigestion can be fatal. Contact with the flowers or foliage may cause severe allergic reactions, so wear long sleeves and gloves when handling Nerium oleander. Its native region stretches from the Mediterranean area to India and Southern China.

The common name alludes to its resemblance to the olive, Olea. Nerium oleander is the official flower of Hiroshima, being the first to flower after the atomic bombing of the city.

Easy to grow in just about any soil. Requires very little maintenance. Prefers a sunny position, but copes with partial shade. Established plants generally don't require fertilisation. Prune for shape in autumn. Can be pruned quite hard. Avoid touching the milky latex that exudes from the cut stems. Tolerates drought, coastal conditions, and moderate frosts (zones 8-11). Suitable for exposed sites, although strong winds may damage flower buds and open flowers. Yellowing of the leaves is usually a sign that the soil is too wet.

A magnificent sight when the plant is completely covered with flowers in summer. There are many cultivars available, with single or double flowers, and in a range of colours. In cold climates, Nerium oleander can be grown in a container and brought indoors for the winter.

pachystegia-insignis

Pachystegia insignis

Marlborough rock daisy, Kaikoura rock daisy, rock tree daisy

Low-growing flowering plant in the daisy family, endemic to New Zealand. Occurs naturally in exposed, rocky areas along the coast and on inland mountains in Marlborough and Northern Canterbury. Leathery, dark green leaves, 7-17 cm long, covered with tiny white hairs. Daisy-like white flowers to 7.5 cm across, with yellow centers emerge in spring from grey-white buds held above the foliage like felted drumsticks. The flowers are followed by fluffy, pale brown seed heads.

Synonyms: Olearia insignis, Olearia marginata. Of the three species in the genus Pachystegia, P. insignis is the most common, both in cultivation and in nature. Pachystegia rufa is similar to P. insignis, but has brownish felt on the flower buds, leaf-undersides, and the flower stems. Pachystegia minor is also very similar to the Marlborough rock daisy, but has smaller leaves without the white leaf margins. 

Prefers a sunny position in very well-draining soil. Can handle part shade, but will have a more open habit. Drought-tolerant. No maintenance required, other than pruning back if and when required. Usually trouble-free as long as the soil is sufficiently dry. Tolerates moderate frosts and is hardy throughout New Zealand.

Excellent choice for exposed, coastal sites. Looks attractive all year round with its grey-green foliage, silvery-grey flower buds and flower stems, the daisy-like flowers and fluffy seed-heads. Combine for example with grasses, succulents or ground covers such as Acaena inermis 'Purpurea' (as in the photographs).

pandorea-jasminoides

Pandorea jasminoides

bower of beauty, bower vine, bower climber

Vigorous evergreen climber in the Bignoniaceae family. Native to parts of New South Wales and Queensland in Australia. Glossy, odd-pinnately compound leaves with 4 to 7 ovate to lanceolate leaflets. Flowering in summer with white to pale pink trumpet-shaped flowers with dark rosy pink throats, followed by long seed pods.

Flowers best when planted in full sun and well-draining soil, but can also be grown in partial shade. Prune after flowering. Can be cut back hard. Once established, Pandorea jasminoides can cope quite well with extended dry periods. Tolerates light frost only when young.

Pandorea jasminoides reliably puts on a fantastic show during summer. It will need support to climb, and you may want to keep an eye on it once it is established to make sure it doesn't grow out of proportions! Suitable for coastal gardens.

phlomis-russeliana

Phlomis russeliana

Turkish sage, (sticky) Jerusalem sage

Evergreen perennial, native to Turkey and Syria, forming large clumps of large, heart-shaped, grey-green, rough-textured, aromatic leaves. Pale yellow flowers arranged in whorls on hairy, erect stems, appear in late spring or early summer. The flowers turn into brown seed-heads that persist on the plant well into winter, providing food for seed eating birds. The nectar in the flowers attracts bees and butterflies.

Synonym: Phlomis samia. Sometimes referred to as Phlomis viscosa.

Prefers a sunny position in well-draining, sandy soil. Copes well with partial shade too. Usually trouble-free and easy to grow. Once established Phlomis russeliana tolerates dry conditions. Cut back to near ground-level in late autumn, winter, or any time you no longer want the seedheads.  Frost hardy (USDA zones 4-9). Propagate from seed or division. Seed-propagated plants flower from their second year on.

A gorgeous plant with year-round interest; beautiful, bold ground-covering foliage with strong, stout flowering stems and attractive seed-heads. Once in flower, Phlomis russeliana can be quite dominant, so find a spot in your garden where it can be the primadonna, or combine with plants that have equally strong personalities to make a real show.

phylica-pubescens

Phylica pubescens

featherhead, flannel flower

Evergreen shrub from South Africa with narrow grey-green leaves densely covered with soft hairs. Tiny flowers with a very mild cinnamon scent, surrounded by showy, hairy, golden creamy bracts appear at the ends of the branches in autumn through to late winter. Often sold as the smaller growing Phylica plumosa (.3-.6 m tall).

Happiest in full sun and well-draining soil. Copes well with dry conditions and is suitable for coastal gardens. Tolerates light to medium frosts (to about -6 degrees Celsius).

This would be the perfect plant for a 'tactile' garden; it feels so nice and soft. Lasts well on water as a cut flower or cut foliage, and can also dried. Once in flower, Phylica pubescens looks amazing since the whole plant is usually covered with its unusual flowers.

plumbago-auriculata

Plumbago auriculata

blue plumbago, Cape leadwort, Cape plumbago

Evergreen shrub in the Plumbaginaceae family, native to South Africa, with long,slender stems, glossy, mid-green foliage and pale blue, phlox-like flowers. The spoon-shaped leaves are about 5 cm long. Flowers are tubular (2.5 cm long), with five petals, and are produced on current season's wood in 15 cm wide, terminal racemes, mainly during late summer and autumn. Plumbago auriculata 'Royal Cape' has more intense blue flowers.

Synonym: Plumbago capensis.

Prefers a position in full sun and well-draining, slightly acidic soil, protected from strong winds. Flowering is somewhat reduced in partial shade. Suitable for coastal areas. Reasonably drought tolerant once established. Prune after flowering or any time during winter to create a more bushy and compact shrub. If damage occurs after moderate frosts, the plant usually recovers (USDA zones 8B-11).

When left to grow without pruning, Plumbago auriculata forms an open shrub with graceful, arching branches. You can grow this as a climber by tying the branches to a support structure like a trellis. Plant next to pink-flowering shrubs for a lovely, soft, colour combination. Add plants with a stronger shape (such as Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Golf ball' or clipped Buxus sempervirens balls) and different textural qualities (such as Phormium 'Green Dwarf' or other plants with spiky or strap-shaped foliage).

podranea-ricasoliana

Podranea ricasoliana

Port St Johns creeper, pink trumpet vine, Zimbabwe creeper, queen of Sheba, Port St Johns klimop, pink tecoma

Evergreen climber in the Bignoniaceae family with glossy, pinnately compound leaves and showy flowers in clusters during summer. Oval leaflets, 2-9 cm long, with entire to sparsely toothed margins. The trumpet-shaped, 6-8 cm long flowers are pink with darker pink to red stripes. Sometimes the flowers are followed by seed capsules that look like long, narrow green beans (to about 25 cm long and 0.5-1 cm wide). Origin uncertain: possibly indigenous to South Africa, but may have been introduced there by slave traders.

Synonyms: Tecoma ricasoliana, Pandorea ricasoliana, Bignonia rosea.

Prefers a position in full sun, but will handle partial shade. Grows in any rich, well-draining soil. Tolerates coastal conditions and wind. Mature plants can cope with moderate frosts (to about -7 0C). Once established, Podranea ricasoliana is reasonably drought tolerant. It does not produce tendrils, so needs to be tied to a support structure, and can be espaliered. Prune in winter or early spring. In parts of New Zealand this plant is regarded as a weed and a threat for the native vegetation.

Vigorous climber with attractive foliage and a spectacular candy-floss pink flower display in late summer. Great choice where you want a fast cover for fences, walls, arches, or pergolas. Could be used as a ground cover, sprawling over rocks and banks. Grow in a large container in cold climates and move indoors during winter.