Plant Guide

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Trees

acacia-baileyana

Acacia baileyana

Cootamundra wattle, Bailey's wattle, golden wattle, golden mimosa

Evergreen tree, native to Australia, flowering from a young age during winter and early spring with yellow globose flower heads (0.5-1 cm wide) arranged in racemes to about 10 cm long. The flowers are followed by 4-10 cm long, purple-brown to black seed pods. Feathery, silver-grey, bi-pinnately compound leaves. Unfortunately, Acacia baileyana is considered a weed in parts of Australia.

Synonym: Racosperma baileyanum.

Prefers a sunny position in any well-draining soil. Tolerates extended drought periods and moderate frosts (to about -7 degC). Ok for coastal gardens.

Acacia baileyana looks magnificent when in flower; completely smothered by bright yellow flowers.

acer-beni-otake

Acer palmatum 'Beni Otake'

Japanese Maple 'Beni Otake', red bamboo Japanese maple

Small deciduous tree with deeply cut, bright burgundy-red new leaves, turning crimson-orange in autumn. Initially this tree is vase-shaped, but with age the canopy becomes more rounded.

The name means "big red bamboo', referring to the bamboo-like foliage.

Prefers well-draining, rich soil in a reasonably sheltered spot. Best grown in filtered sunlight, but is more tolerant of full sun than many other Japanese maples. Drought-tolerant once established. Frost-hardy.

Perfect for the smaller garden and fits in beautifully with an oriental theme.

acer-palmatum-bloodgood

Acer palmatum 'Bloodgood'

Small, round-headed Japanese maple cultivar with grey bark, dark red young branches, and burgundy foliage. Toothed leaves, 8-12 cm long, with five lobes and possibly one or more small lobes at the base.  Leaves usually hold their colour well into summer, but may fade in hot sunny areas, before turning crimson to bright scarlet in autumn. Insignificant red-purple flowers in spring, followed by samaras (winged fruit) in autumn.

Synonym: Acer palmatum var. atropurpureum 'Bloodgood'.

Some variation in appearance is possible since there is more than a single clone available under this name in the trade, and sometimes seed-propagated (as opposed to grafted) trees are also offered for sale as Acer palmatum 'Bloodgood'. Likewise, the name Acer palmatum 'Atropurpureum' has been used for more than a single clone. Hence the differences between Acer palmatum 'Bloodgood' and Acer palmatum 'Atropurpureum'  may not be as clear as between the original selections.

Prefers a sunny position or, in particular in areas with hot summers, a partially shaded site. Any well-draining soil. Protect from strong winds. Prune lightly for shape once a year during winter. Frost hardy.

One of the most popular red-purple maples with good colour retention during summer. May also be grown as a shrub. Use as a specimen tree or accent plant for foliage colour, and repeat a similar colour elsewhere in the garden (e.g. with Loropetalum chinense 'Burgundy') to create a link with the surrounding planting. Perfectly suited to Japanese style gardens.

acer-palmatum-osakazuki

Acer palmatum 'Osakazuki'

Deciduous tree with broad, rounded canopy. Mid green, 7-lobed leaves with toothed margins, 10-12 cm long. Foliage turns orange-red in autumn. Bright red, winged fruit in early autumn.

Suitable for a sheltered position in full sun and any well-draining soil. In areas with hot summers, Acer palmatum 'Osakazuki' likes shade from afternoon sun. Fertilise once a year. Remove damaged or dead branches. Protect from strong winds. Water during hot dry weather.

Japanese maple with brilliant autumn colour and beautiful fruit. Makes a wonderful focal point in autumn. Can be grown in a large container for several years.

acer-palmatum-shaina

Acer palmatum 'Shaina'

Compact, upright-growing (as opposed to spreading) Japanese maple with burgundy foliage and bright red young leaves. Branches are formed from ground-level. The foliage turns a little bit darker in colour during autumn before leaf fall.

Prefers a partially shaded, sheltered position in any fertile, well-draining soil. Generally pest and disease free. Young foliage may be damaged be late frosts.

An attractive small maple with brilliant foliage colours. Perfect for a sheltered garden that needs some height, but lacks the space required for trees with spreading canopies. The foliage colour combines beautifully with Loropetalum chinense 'Burgundy' which can be used as a link between the canopy of Acer palmatum 'Shaina' and lower-level layers in the garden. Also suitable for large containers.

acer-platanoides-drummondii

Acer platanoides 'Drummondii'

variegated Norway maple, harlequin Norway maple, harlequin maple

Deciduous tree with a rounded-oval, high canopy. Large, typical maple leaves, deeply lobed, green with broad, creamy white margins, turning golden in autumn. Inconspicuous yellow-green flowers in clusters during early spring before the leaves emerge.

Prefers a sunny or partially shady position in any fertile, well-draining soil. Foliage colour intensity is reduced in shade. Benefits from fertiliser application in spring. Tolerates air pollution. No pruning required other than the removal of dead, damaged, and crossing branches. Also cut out any branches with leaves that have reverted to green and lost the variegation. Stressed Acer platanoides 'Drummondii' may suffer from leaf scorch with the leaves, particularly the tips and margins turning brown and subsequently shriveling. Stress results from any growing conditions that cause the leaves to loose water faster than the roots can take it up, such as drying winds, water-logging, drought, and heat. The tree will generally recover in the next season with healthy foliage.

Striking specimen or shade tree with relatively coarse textured and highly ornamental foliage, combining well with other greens. For a very strong contrast, plant this in combination with burgundy-red leafed trees, but be careful not to overdo this combination as it may overpower the rest of your garden. Even a single tree can be quite a dominant feature. Acer platanoides 'Drummondii' produces vigorous surface roots, so plant away from hard surfaces, and underplant with e.g. Liriope muscari or other ground covers (not lawn) that can handle the dry and shady conditions beneath the tree.

acer-pseudoplatanus-esk-sunset

Acer pseudoplatanus 'Esk Sunset'

Deciduous tree with an oval to pyramidal canopy and variegated foliage. The palmately lobed, green and cream leaves with toothed margins, are heavily flecked with salmon pink or sometimes entirely orange-pink. The undersides become progressively darker during the season, turning burgundy during summer. The orange shades on the upper surface of the foliage gradually change to cream (see photo in the gallery of leaves in autumn). Inconspicuous flowers in spring.

Sycamore maple cultivar, developed from a chance seedling discovered in a garden in the Esk Valley, New Zealand. Also known (outside New Zealand) as Acer pseudoplatanus 'Eskimo Sunset'.

Prefers a position in well-draining soil and partial shade. Leaf colourings vary with the amount of sun exposure, but to prevent leaf-burn, it is best to find a spot where the tree is protected from hot afternoon sun. Likes an even moisture level. Prune for shape if required in summer after leaves have fully developed. Tolerates urban pollution. Frost hardy.

Stunning maple with exquisite foliage colours, perfect as an accent tree. Particularly attractive when the leaves move in a light breeze and the darker coloured undersides are visible intermittently. The canopy is generally quite close to the ground (about 1.5 m clearance), so plant it away from circulation routes. 

albizia-julibrissin

Albizia julibrissin

silk tree, Persian silk tree, silky acacia, mimosa tree, pink siris

Broad-headed, deciduous tree, native to West- and East Asia, from Iran to Japan. Fern-like, bipinnately compound leaves. Fragrant, pink, 4 cm long, pom-pom-like flowers in summer, followed by flat seed-pods (10-15 cm long). Albizia julibrissin is widely grown as an ornamental tree, but has become invasive in some parts of the world. Once established, it is difficult to eradicate due to its ability to re-sprout readily and the longevity of its seed.

Prefers a sunny position in well-draining soil. Tolerates moderate frosts (zones 8-12), and a wide range of soils, including sand and clay. Prone to Fusarium wilt, a fatal fungal disease. Reasonably wind-hardy and drought-tolerant once established.

Albizia julibrissin with its relatively flat umbrella-shaped crown and delicate, deciduous foliage, is a graceful tree suitable as a shade tree, and perfect for flower display in summer. Since the flowers are positioned above the foliage, the tree would suit a spot where you can look down on the canopy.

alnus-jorullensis

Alnus jorullensis

Mexican alder, evergreen alder

Graceful fast-growing evergreen or semi-evergreen tree from Mexico and Central America, with drooping branches and pale grey bark. Leaves resemble birch leaves and are 5-10 cm long, dark green, leathery, with toothed margins. Most leaves are retained during winter, but some leaf-shed occurs throughout the year . Looks beautiful in spring with a mixture of new light green leaves and mature dark green foliage. Minute flowers arranged in light-green, pendulous catkins to 7 cm long (male) or in short catkins (female) on same tree. Green cone-like fruit, 1.5 cm long, turning dark brown with age.

Alnus jorullensis likes a position in full sun or partial shade and prefers moist soils of any type, but tolerates drier soils although growth will be slower and may be stunted. Copes with medium frosts to about -12oC. Root system can be invasive and it is best planted away from foundations and pipes. Train to a single leader and remove lower limbs to lift the crown.

Suitable as a specimen or shade tree. Can also be pleached, used as a screen, hedge, or bank stabilisor. Useful tree to dry out wet areas.

 

carpodetus-serratus

Carpodetus serratus

putaputaweta, marble leaf, bucket of water tree

Upright tree with rough, grey bark and branches spreading outward in tiers, endemic to New Zealand, occurring naturally throughout the country along damp forest margins and stream sides. Thin, usually mottled, ovate to elliptic leaves with finely toothed margins, 3-6 cm x 2-3 cm. Clusters of small white, .5 cm wide flowers in spring, followed in autumn by pea-sized, round fruits in cup-like receptacles, green initially, turning black on maturity. Carpodetus serratus has a juvenile form with tangled, zigzag, interlacing branches, and smaller, rounded leaves. Juvenile and mature growth may exist on the same tree. The tree acts as a host for the puriri moth caterpillars.

Putaputaweta is a Maori word meaning 'many wetas', referring to wetas making their homes in the holes left by larvae of the puriri moth. The name 'bucket of water' refers to the very sappy wood.

Prefers a damp, sheltered position in sun or shade, and fertile soil. Prune to maintain a good shape and remove dead wood. Tolerates -10 deg Celsius once established. Suitable for wetland planting and ok for coastal areas.

Carpodetus serratus can grow into an elegant, small tree that is completely covered with flowers in spring. 

cordyline-australis

Cordyline australis

ti-kouka, cabbage tree

Tall, evergreen tree, endemic to New Zealand, with a rounded canopy consisting of large clusters of long, narrow leaves. Common throughout New Zealand in open ground, around swamps and damp places, and along forest margins. The leaves are linear with an entire margin, and up to 1 m long by 6 cm wide. They turn brown with age and remain hanging on the tree for a long time before falling, forming a skirt beneath the young green leaves. Large panicles of small, 0.5 cm wide, creamy white, strongly scented flowers are produced on mature trees in summer, attracting bees. Birds like the blue-white berries that are formed subsequently. Cordyline australis grows to about 15 m high, with an unbranched trunk when young (and undamaged), and forming side-branches in the upper part later.

The Maoris used the leaves of Cordyline australis for medicinal purposes, and the roots of young trees as a source of food. Early settlers hollowed out the trunks of large specimens to make chimneys, since the timber (unlike the foliage) is fire-resistant. They used to boil and eat young shoots as a substitute for cabbage, hence the common name. 

Prefers a position in full sun or partial shade. Likes moist soil, but can cope with considerable drought once established. Grows in just about any soil type, including clay soils as long as they are not too impermeable. Tolerates moderate frosts (to zone 8) and is hardy throughout New Zealand. Suitable for coastal and exposed sites. Caterpillars may cause some leaf damage. Stressed trees are susceptible to rust. In warm, humid areas root rot (Phytophtora) may become a problem, but can be avoided by growing other plants beneath the trees to keep their root-zones cool.

Great choice for a stunning architectural statement. Imagine a group of cabbage trees with a simple, contrasting under-planting of Muehlenbeckia astonii. You may want to plant Cordyline australis at some distance from your lawn....the lawnmower doesn't like the tough old leaves! Useful as a primary coloniser and good for erosion control on steep banks and along streambanks.

cornus-capitata

Cornus capitata

Himalayan strawberry tree, Himalayan flowering dogwood, evergreen dogwood, Bentham's cornel

Evergreen tree in the dogwood family (Cornaceae), native to the Himalayas. Dull green, ovate to lanceolate leaves with grey-green undersides, 8-12 cm long, arranged in opposite pairs. Some of the leaves may turn reddish in autumn. In areas with cold winters, Cornus capitata may behave as a deciduous or semi-deciduous tree. Flowers in late spring or early summer with insignificant central clusters, surrounded by four showy, creamy white to pale yellow bracts, 7-14 cm wide. Flowers are followed by bird-attracting, strawberry-like berries, about 3-5 cm wide. Fruit may be bitter, but is edible and can be eaten raw or cooked, or used in preserves. Naturalised in parts of Australia and new Zealand, and regarded as an environmental weed in some of these areas.

Synonyms: Benthamida capitata, Benthamia capitata, Benthamida fragifera, Benthamia fragifera, Dendrobenthamia capitata.

Prefers a sheltered, sunny or partially shaded position in well-draining, sandy soil, but can cope with other soil types, including clay soils. Likes moist conditions, but tolerates drought. Moderately frost-hardy (-5 to -10oC).

Lovely ornamental tree for flower and fruit display. The perfect tree to attract birds in your garden.

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.

dodonaea-viscosa

Dodonaea viscosa

akeake, hopbush, hopseed, hopwood, soapwood, sticky hopbush

Variable, evergreen shrub or small tree, occurring naturally in coastal and lowland forests throughout the North Island, the northern part of the South Island of New Zealand, and the Chatham Islands. Also found in southern Africa, tropical America, the Pacific Islands, and throughout Australia. Alternate, linear to lanceolate, pale to mid-green, sticky leaves, 4-10 cm long and 1-3 cm wide. Tiny creamy yellow, usually unisexual flowers in spring, with male and female flowers borne mostly on separate trees. In summer, female flowers are followed by conspicuous, 1-2 cm wide, winged seed capsules. These capsules are pale yellow, gradually turning reddish brown, starting from the edges of the wings. Attractive red-brown bark, peeling in stringy flakes. Very tough wood, black with white streaks.

Prefers a sunny or semi-shaded position in well-draining soil. Tends to become leggy when light levels are too low. Tolerates light to moderate frosts (zone 9), coastal conditions, dry soils, and strong winds. Does not tolerate wet soils. Prune regularly and lightly to keep compact. Responds to trimming for hedging purposes.

Versatile, fast-growing plant. Dodonaea viscosa can be grown as a specimen tree by gradually removing the lower branches, showing off the bark and developing an interesting, irregular crown, shaped by the wind in exposed situations. Although predominantly used as a foliage plant, a tree laden with seed capsules is a sight to behold. Excellent choice for a hedge, in particular in coastal areas, and when alternated with other hedging plants. Also makes a good filler or backdrop for lower-growing shrubs with different textures and/or foliage colours. 

dodonaea-viscosa-purpurea

Dodonaea viscosa 'Purpurea'

purple akeake

Purple-bronze cultivar of Dodonaea viscosa, originally discovered in the early 1890s on a riverbank in Marlborough in New Zealand. Grows into a small bushy tree or shrub up to 4 m tall and 2 m wide. Narrow-obovate to narrow-elliptic leaves, 4-10 cm long and 1-3 cm wide. The purple leaf colour intensifies during the colder months. Flowers are arranged in terminal panicles to 4 cm long, purplish red, and mostly bisexual. (The species itself produces dull yellow unisexual flowers, usually on separate plants.) Flowers are followed by much larger, winged, purplish red seed capsules in summer. Red-brown, stringy bark. 

Prefers a sunny or partially shaded position in free-draining soil. Suitable for dry, exposed, and coastal sites. Tolerates light to moderate frosts (zone 9). Intolerant of very wet soils. Soft growth responds well to trimming, but avoid pruning old wood. Lower branches can be removed to create a clear-trunk. Leaf colour is better when planted in poor soil.

Makes an interesting specimen tree with attractive bark, beautiful purple foliage, reddish purple seed capsules and, in particular in very windy areas, an irregularly shaped canopy. Excellent choice for hedging purposes in coastal gardens. Cut stems with foliage and seed capsules add an unusual dimension to floral arrangements.