Plant Guide

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Shrub

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.

lophomyrtus-ralphii-kathryn

Lophomyrtus x ralphii 'Kathryn'

'Kathryn' is one of several cultivars of Lophomyrtus x ralphii, a hybrid of the New Zealand native species Lophomyrtus bullata (ramarama) and Lophomyrtus obcordata (rohutu). Leaves are oval, 1-2 cm long, puckered, deep purplish red with green. Creamy white flowers during summer, 1 cm across, followed by reddish purple berries.

Prefers a sunny or partially shaded position in well-drained soil. Tolerates moderate frosts. Responds well to clipping.

Attractive contrasting plant. Widely used for hedging purposes. Foliage suitable for floral art.

lophomyrtus-ralphii-red-dragon

Lophomyrtus x ralphii 'Red Dragon'

Evergreen shrub with small pointed, textured leaves, pinkish red when young, maturing to burgundy red, intensifying to blackish red in winter. White flowers in summer, to 1 cm across, followed by dark red berries. 'Red dragon' is one of several cultivars of Lophomyrtus x ralphii, a hybrid of the New Zealand native species Lophomyrtus bullata (ramarama) and Lophomyrtus obcordata (rohutu).

Prefers a sunny or partially shaded position in any well-drained, fertile soil. Avoid very dry or exposed sites. Tolerates moderate frosts, but may need some frost protection when young. Responds well to clipping.

Brilliant, fine-textured foliage plant. Excellent for hedging purposes. Cut stems are suitable for floral art.

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-stellata

Magnolia stellata

star magnolia

Deciduous shrub or small tree with rounded canopy, and smothered with flowers during late winter and early spring. Native to Japan. Slightly fragrant, pure white, star-shaped, 8-12 cm wide flowers with at least 12 narrow petals emerge from large, grey, hairy flowerbuds before new leaves. Flowers are occasionally flushed with pink. There are a couple of pink-flowering cultivars in existence. Young leaves are bronze green when they first appear, turning mid to dark green on maturity, and changing to yellow just before they fall in autumn. Leaves are oval to oblong, about 10 cm long and 4 cm wide.

Prefers a sheltered position in full sun or part shade in moist, but well-drained, slightly acidic soil. Tolerates lime. Frost hardy, but flowers may be damaged by late frosts. No or minimal pruning during late summer is all that is required.

Lovely magnolia suitable for flower display in the smaller garden.

magnolia-loebneri-leonard-messel

Magnolia x loebneri 'Leonard Messel'

Hardy, deciduous shrub or tree, growing to about 6-8 m, with fragrant flowers on bare branches. Magnolia x loebneri 'Leonard Messel' originated from a cross between Magnolia kobus and Magnolia stellata 'Rosea' in Leonard Messel's garden at Nymans estate in Sussex. Oblong to elliptic, mid-green leaves, to about 12 cm long and 5 cm wide, turning yellow and brown in autumn. Rose-pink buds open in late winter or spring to scented flowers with up to 12 narrow petals, similar to those of the star magnolia (Magnolia stellata), pink mainly on the outside and white inside, 10 cm wide. Flower colour tends to be paler when spring temperatures are low, and darker pink in warm spring weather.

Prefers a position with a cool root run, in full sun, well-drained, slightly acidic soil, and sheltered from strong winds. Flowers are more frost-hardy than those of most other magnolias. Minimal pruning required. Just remove damaged, dead or crossing branches in mid summer. Avoid root disturbance.

An elegant specimen tree, flowering profusely for about 4-5 weeks. Looks great as a feature plant with night-lighting. Plant close to an area where you can enjoy the subtle fragrance.

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!

muehlenbeckia-astonii

Muehlenbeckia astonii

Fine, dark, densely interlaced branches. The minute round to heart-shaped green leaves fall in winter in colder climates, giving the shrub a brown to purple colour. Small white flowers, followed by tiny, translucent white fruits with black seeds inside. Occurs naturally in coastal areas in the south of the North Island of New Zealand and the north-east of the South Island.

Forms a great contrast with larger-leafed shrubs such as Griselinia littoralis or with flaxes and grasses or grass-like plants such as Chionochloa flavicans.

Muehlenbeckia astonii prefers dry conditions, but will cope with wet soils as long as the plant has a cool root run. Can be pruned to shape. Hardy to -12oC

 

nandina-domestica-richmond

Nandina domestica 'Richmond'

Evergreen shrub with finely divided leaves and showy brilliant red berries in winter. Stems are upright and cane-like, a bit like bamboo (but not suckering), hence the common names "heavenly bamboo", "Chinese bamboo" and "sacred bamboo" for the species. Foliaged is composed of many small lance-shaped to elliptical leaves to 2 cm long, some of which colour up to burgundy-red in the colder months of the year. Small creamy white, star-shaped flowers, 1 cm across, in panicles at the ends of stems mainly during summer.

Nandina domestica 'Richmond' is self-fertile, i.e. does not require another plant to produce berries. For Nandina domestica itself to  form berries both male and female plants should be planted together.

Prefers a partially shaded or sunny position in any, fertile soil. Copes reasonably well with  full shade. Quite drought-tolerant. If pruning is required, selectively prune some of the stems at a ttime instead of cutting the whole plant back.

Its growth habit and delicate foliage make this the perfect choice for gardens with an oriental theme. Can also be grown as a tub plant.

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.

olearia-paniculata

Olearia paniculata

akiraho

Evergreen shrub to 2-4 m tall or, when given sufficient space, a small tree to 6 m tall and 3 m wide, native to New Zealand. Light green, oval to oblong, leathery leaves, 3-10 cm long, 2-4 cm wide. Leaf margins are usually very wavy, but may be flat. Leaf undersides are covered with fine grey-white tomentum. Inconspicuous, creamy white, sweetly scented flower heads are produced in autumn. Occurs naturally in coastal areas, montane scrublands and forest margins of the North and South Islands of New Zealand.

Prefers a sunny or partially shaded position in well-draining soil. Tolerates moderate frosts, and dry, windy, and coastal conditions. Frost hardy throughout New Zealand. Responds well to trimming.

Excellent hedge or screen for coastal sites. Attractive foliage plant with an interesting texture and bright green colour.

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).

photinia-fraseri-red-robin

Photinia x fraseri 'Red Robin'

Evergreen shrub with vibrant red young growth. Photinia x fraseri is a hybrid between Photinia glabra and Photinia serratifolia. The cultivar 'Red Robin' was developed in New Zealand, and is widely used as a colourful hedge. Glossy, elliptic to obovate leaves to 10 cm long, bright red when young, turning dark green on maturity. Panicles of small, creamy white flowers during spring.

Best foliage colour in full sun, but is also suitable for a partially shaded position. Grows in any fertile, neutral or acid, well-draining soil. Reasonably wind tolerant.  Not recommended for very exposed sites, coastal gardens or wet, waterlogged soils. Frost hardy once established, but needs protection from harsh frosts when young. A light prune during the growing season promotes the production of young leaves and thus prolongs the intense foliage colour display. Tolerates hard pruning. May be affected by fireblight, a bacterial disease that causes the leaves to wilt and turns the branches black as if the plant is scorched by fire. Remove affected plants to prevent spreading the disease to other susceptible plants.

Spectacular hedging plant with brilliant red young foliage. Can be grown as a small standard tree, filler or specimen shrub.

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.

pittosporum-crassifolium

Pittosporum crassifolium

karo

New Zealand native evergreen shrub or small tree. Thick, leathery, obovate leaves with rolled down margins, about 6 cm long and 2 cm wide. The leaf undersides and petioles are covered with a dense whitish tomentum. Deep red, fragrant, unisexual flowers in spring, the female ones turning into three- or four-valved seed capsules which eventually split open to reveal shiny black seeds. Provides food for native and exotic birds. Originally occurred naturally near the coast, along streams and in forest margins in the North Island of New Zealand from the North Cape to Poverty Bay, and in the Kermadic Islands. Karo is now naturalised throughout most of New Zealand.

Prefers a sunny or semi-shady position in free-draining soil. Tolerates wind, coastal conditions, relatively dry sites, and moderate frosts (zones 9-11). Usually quite fast growing and problem-free. Prune yearly. Benefits from mulch and compost.

Tough plant with a grey-green overall appearance. Suitable for hedging purposes. The flowers release a delightful scent at night. Excellent choice for seaside gardens as a filler or background plant.