Plant Guide

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Sunny

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.

duranta-erecta-geisha-girl

Duranta erecta 'Geisha Girl'

geisha girl pigeon berry

Fast growing, evergreen shrub with glossy green leaves and cascading branches. Purple-blue flowers with wrinkly white edges, mainly during summer, followed by orange-yellow berries. Poisonous leaves and berries. Attracts birds and butterflies.

Duranta repens is a synonym for Duranta erecta. The species itself is native to Southern USA, Central America, the Carribean, and South America, and has become an environmental weed in several warmer parts of the world. The newer cultivars, such as 'Geisha Girl' are thought to be less invasive.

Prefers a sunny position in any well-draining soil. Water regularly until established. Fertilise in spring with an all-purpose fertiliser. Prune after flowering to keep the plant compact. Tolerates light frost (zones 9-12). Can be trained as a standard, grown as a shrub, or trimmed as a hedge.

What a pity this shrub is so toxic! When flowering, it looks absolutely stunning.

echinops-ritro

Echinops ritro

small globe thistle, blue globe thistle, steel globe thistle, globe flower, blue hedgehog

Eurasian, herbaceous perennial in the Asteraceae family. Grey-green, deeply cut, evergreen foliage. Spherical, steel-blue flower heads, 5 cm across, on long, silvery stems in late summer and autumn. Attracts bees and butterflies. Birds like the seeds.

Prefers a sheltered position in full sun and poor, well-draining soil. Tolerates partial shade and dry conditions. Suitable for coastal gardens. Stems are quite strong, but staking may be required in windy locations. Cut back to near ground level after flowering. Leave the flowering stems on the plant if you wish to encourage self-seeding. Cutting spent flowering stems back early in the season helps the plant to produce a second flush of flowers. Divide the plant after 3-4 years.  Echinops ritro is generally trouble-free and easy to grow.

Attractive contrasting plant with globe-shaped flowers in stunning metallic blue, set off beautifully against the silvery stems and greyish foliage. Combines well with tall grasses that flower at about the same time, such as Miscanthus sinensis cultivars. Excellent for dried and fresh cut flower arrangements.

echium-candicans

Echium candicans

pride of Madeira

Soft-wooded evergreen shrub with a sprawling habit, native to the Canary Islands and Madeira. Hairy, grey-green leaves to 20 cm long, arranged in whorls along the stems. Smaller leaves on flowering stems. Large 20-40 cm long spikes of sapphire to violet blue flowers with crimson stamens during late winter and early spring. Usually perennial, but may behave as a biennial, forming rosettes of leaves in the first year, producing flowers in the second year, and dying after flowering. Attracts bees and butterflies.

Synonym: Echium fastuosum

Prefers a sunny position in well-drained soil. Remove dead flowers and prune after flowering to keep compact. Tolerant of light frosts. Grows well in dry, exposed, and coastal conditions. 

Striking feature plant when in flower. Excellent choice for flower display in dry, sandy, seaside gardens.

Elaeagnus pungens 'Maculata'

Elaeagnus pungens 'Maculata'

variegated silverberry

Evergreen variegated shrub, native to Japan. Main branches spiny and more or less horizontal and arching. Copper coloured twigs. Oval leaves shiny green and yellow above, dull grey beneath with small brown glandular dots. Insignificant, but very fragrant flowers in autumn. Fast growing and tough: prefers full sun, but tolerates a wide range of conditions.

erigeron-karvinskianus

Erigeron karvinskianus

Mexican daisy, Santa Barbara daisy, Latin American fleabane, seaside daisy

Fine-textured, mound-forming, evergreen perennial, native to Mexico, Venezuela, and Central America. Flowers profusely from spring to autumn, and all year round in mild climates. Thin, wiry stems with small narrow leaves, 1-4 cm long, three-lobed or without lobes. Yellow-centered, daisy-like flowers, 2 cm across, with white petals, turning pink with age. Naturalised in many parts of the world. Regarded as an unwanted, invasive weed in several countries, including New Zealand, Portugal, and New Caledonia.

Synonym: Erigeron mucronatus

Happiest in full sun or partial shade, and any well-drained soil. Copes with full shade, but lacks vigor and produces fewer flowers. Tolerates moderate frosts, coastal conditions, and drought once established. Self-seeds. If you wish to propagate this plant from an existing one, all you need to do is place a pot with potting mix next to the existing plant, and Erigeron karvinskianus will do the rest.

Versatile ground cover plant that grows almost anywhere, and flowers during most of the year. Particularly suited to cottage-style gardens, but also fits in beautifully with other themes, adding a delicate, somewhat playful touch to formal settings.

erythrina-sykesii

Erythrina x sykesii

coral tree, flame tree, Australian coral tree

Large deciduous or semi-deciduous tree of uncertain hybrid parentage (involving Australian native Erythrina species), with a short trunk and a relatively open canopy of ascending branches with rose-like thorns. Named after William Sykes, a New Zealand botanist. Compound leaves with three, heart-shaped, mid green leaflets, 7-20 cm long, 7-12 cm wide.  Bright scarlet flowers to about 6 cm long, in clusters at the tips of bare branches in late winter and early spring. Has become invasive in parts of Australia, where it is difficult to control since it grows easily from root segments. branches and clippings.

Prefers a position in full sun and moist soil. Can adapt to dry areas. Withstands coastal conditions, but needs wind protection. Branches are quite brittle and easily snap off during windy days. Tolerates light frosts to about -7 deg C. 

Magnificent specimen tree, in particular during winter and early spring when the canopy of bare branches is covered with masses of large, vibrant orange  flower clusters.

escallonia-apple-blossom

Escallonia 'Apple Blossom'

Evergreen shrub with glossy, dark green, finely toothed foliage and pale pink with white, 1 cm wide flowers for 1-2 months from early summer. Attracts bees.

Escallonia 'Apple Blossom' prefers a sunny or partially shaded position in any well-draining soil. Prune to keep compact. Suitable for coastal gardens. Responds well to trimming. Frost hardy to about -12 deg. Celsius. Drought tolerant once established. Usually disease free, but may get brown scale.

Very pretty plant when in flower, but also a lovely foliage plant. Great choice for a fine-textured hedge. Not as vigorous as most other Escallonia hybrids, so requires less frequent pruning to maintain as a hedge. When intending to grow Escallonia 'Apple Blossom' as a single specimen, plant it towards the back of a border. The glossy dark green foliage is a beautiful foil for other flowering plants.

escallonia-pink-elle

Escallonia 'Pink Elle'

Escallonia laevis 'Pink Elle' is a compact, evergreen shrub with dark green, glossy foliage, and clusters of pink flowers in summer. The leaves are ovate in shape, 4-8 cm long, and have toothed leaf margins.The flower clusters are about 10 cm long.

Also known as Escallonia laevis 'Lades'. The original plant was discovered and propagated by French nurseryman Ludovic Ladan at his nursery Pepinieres Ladan on the coast of Brittany (North-West France).

Escallonia 'Pink Elle' prefers a moist, but well-drained position in full sun, but will tolerate light shade. Grows in most soil types, including clay and sand. Once established, it has low water requirements. Hardy to about -15 degC. If trimmed back immediately after flowering the plant may flower again in Autumn.

Escallonia 'Pink Elle' puts on a magnificent flower display in summer with most of the plant covered with candy-floss pink flowers. For the rest of the year it is a well-behaved, healthy-looking filler. Looks awesome as an informal hedge too.

eucomis-reuben

Eucomis comosa

pineapple lily

Originally from South Africa, Eucomis comosa is a winter-dormant bulbous plant with a basal rosette of strap-shaped fleshy, bright green leaves with maroon spots. The cream, waxy flowers are arranged in tight spikes with a tuft of green bracts at the top. There are several hybrids, such as 'Sparkling Burgundy' which emerges in spring with burgundy-red foliage, changes to green later and reverts back once the flowers fade. Its flowers are dark pink and the spikes have a tuft of purple bracts at the top. The photograph that shows hydrangeas in the background is of Eucomis comosa 'Reuben', bred by New Zealand grower Eddie Welsh.

Synonym: Eucomis punctata

Prefers a sunny position in any well-draining soil that is relatively dry in winter and moist in summer. Tolerates partial shade, but the best flower and foliage colours are produced in full sun. Suitable for USDA zone 8, but in areas where heavy frosts may occur, Eucomis comosa is best grown in a container and moved to a frost-free location during winter. Bulbs can also be lifted each autumn, stored in a dry medium, such as peat, and planted out again in spring. Easy to divide, but smaller bulbs may not flower in the first year after division. 

Beautiful plant, in particular the pink-flowering varieties. As cut flowers they last for many weeks.

euphorbia-epithymoides

Euphorbia epithymoides

cushion spurge

Clump-forming perennial plant, flowering with bright acid-yellow 'flower' heads, 5-8 cm wide, in late spring. Botanically speaking, the parts resembling flower petals are modified leaves, and the actual flowers are very tiny. Simple, elliptical to linear leaves, 4-6 cm long. Foliage tends to colour up during autumn in shades of red, purple and orange. The common name refers to the plant's cushion-like growth habit. All parts are toxic. Sap may irritate skin and eyes.

Synonym: Euphorbia polychroma.

Grows well in full sun, but in hot areas a partially shaded position with morning sun only is best. Too much shade will result in a leggy, open shape. Any well-draining soil. Not tolerant of waterlogged soil and reasonably tolerant of dry soils. Self-seeds. Can become weedy, but is easy to control by cutting the stems back to about one-third after flowering. This will also keep the plant compact. Wear gloves when pruning to prevent skin contact with the milky sap that seeps from the cut stems. Frost hardy. Evergreen in areas with mild winters, but cut back to near ground level to maintain a well-shaped plant.

You can create gorgeous colour combinations by planting Euphorbia epithymoides together with blue or purple varieties of Ajuga reptans, Acquilegia, GeraniumIris, Lobelia, or with purple leafed Heuchera or Loropetalum chinense 'Burgundy'. The colour is particularly attractive in the shade, and if you wish to make the most of the beautiful bright colour on a well-shaped, compact plant, then select a partially shaded position. Can be used as a ground cover, but does not spread, so make sure you plant enough plants to produce a good cover.

euryops-pectinatus

Euryops pectinatus

golden daisy bush, grey-haired euryops

Evergreen bushy shrub in the daisy family, native to South Africa. Finely divided grey-green, downy foliage. Silvery grey buds on white, downy stems, open to yellow daisies, to 6 cm across. Flowers virtually all year round in warmer climates.

Very versatile, unfussy plant. Prefers a position in full sun and well-draining soil, but tolerates a wide range of conditions, including drought and coastal exposure. Hardy to -120C. 

Prune to maintain size and shape. Great for winter colour. Mainly grown for its attractive flowers, but also useful as a beautiful grey green foliage plant that can be trimmed to a compact ball or bun shape or used as a hedge.

garrya-elliptica

Garrya elliptica

silk tassel bush; wavyleaf silktassel; coast silk-tassel; rats-tail tree; catkin bush

Evergreen shrub, or sometimes a small tree with dull, dark green wavy-edged, opposite leaves that are about 4-7 cm long. Native to the coastal areas of California and southern parts of Oregon. Winter-flowering with silvery-cream male and female flowers on separate plants. Both types of flowers are arranged in clusters of catkin-like structures (tassels), the males 8-20 cm long and the female flowers about half that size. Garrya elliptica 'James Roof' (pictured) is a male form with particuarly long tassels. Fruits on female trees resemble tiny grapes,green initially, turning purplish-grey.

Prefers a sunny spot. Can be grown in any type of soil as long as it is well-draining. Tolerant of coastal conditions and pollution. Moderately frost hardy (Zones 8-9). Prune after flowering.

The photos were taken in my street where I don't really notice it for most of the year, except for the three months of winter when it puts on this impressive show of unusual flowers. Garrya elliptica would be great in a spot where you need an evergreen filler and where it can shine in winter without other attention-seeking plants. It can also be grown as a hedge either inland or on the coast.

geranium-rozanne

Geranium Rozanne

Perennial with deeply cut leaves and masses of blue-violet flowers from spring until well into autumn. Individual flowers are about 5-7 cm across. Winter-dormant. Forms a wide-spreading, dense mound. 

Grows well in full sun or partial shade. Any reasonable soil, including sandy and clay soils. Can handle some drought, and also copes well with occasionally very wet soils. A trim every now and then may be required to keep the plant compact. Geranium 'Rozanne' grows vigorously, but will not become invasive. Generally pest and disease-free. Does not self-seed. Frost-hardy.

Fantastic groundcover with an incredibly long flowering season. Very easy to grow. Looks fabulous with yellows and oranges, or with purple flowers like those of Liriope muscari.