There are so many good reasons to plant a New Zealand native as gardeners all over the world have discovered. During a recent trip to Europe I swear I saw a Cabbage Tree (Corydline) in every back yard I peeked into! Here at home, planting a NZ Native is really an act of conservation as it ensures the continuation of native plant species. Along with that there is the added bonus of attracting native birds to your garden and beneficial native insects. However before we get too "Green" and serious lets just apreciate the wonderful layers of colour, texture and distinctive form that NZ Natives offer the gardener.
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What could be more architectural than a Cabbage Tree? Perhaps the only competitor would be our NZ Flaxes (Phormiums) which are available in small, medium and large with a wide colour palette. These cannot be beaten for toughness and adaptability and are simply fabulous planted en masse. Can you imagine New Zealand without Kowhai trees (Sophora) driping with bright yellow bells in summer and being squabbled over by noisy Tui's? Did you know that some Kowhai plants only reach 1m and are therefore ideal for smaller gardens or container growing? And what about our own unique Christmas Tree, the Pohutakawa (Metrosideros) which is so easy and rewarding to grow in frost free areas.
You won't get a better ground cover for difficult sites than our native Coprosma varieties. Then there are native "grasses" for mass planting and Hebes for adding year round colour. Corokias and Pittosporums for hedging, windbreaks, or no nonsense background foliage fillers. Did you know that the shy Pittosporum flowers have an exquisite perfume? Pseudopanax offer unique foliage form and colour and are ideal for adding height. In garden design our native plants can stand alone or combine superbly with exotic imports to provide a rich tapestry.
For best results plant Native plants in early spring in a well considered position as, just like us, they resent being moved unnecessarily. Other than that most natives are extremely easy and rewarding to grow.
Native. The NZ Iris is an attractive clump forming perennial with spears of fresh green foliage. In summer white 'butterfly' flowers dance above the leaves on stiff, wiry stems. These are followed by ornamental seed pods. Well worth planting and easy to grow. Evergreen.
Colour: White Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 1m x 0.6m
This little Iris has to be one of my favourite NZ natives as it has such dainty white "butterfly" flowers. The narrow sword like leaves form a strong clump, the flowers appear in summer followed by ornamental seed pods. Easy to grow in average soil in a sunny position. Evergreen.
Colour: White Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 60cm x 60cm
A native perennial with narrow spears of bronze green foliage that turns orange-brown in winter. Wiry stems of dainty white 'butterfly' flowers appear in spring and summer. Prefers a semi-shaded position and acid soil. Evergreen.
Colour: White Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 50cm x 80cm
Muehlenbeckia astonii is a divaricating, deciduous shrub that can add interest to any garden and works well contrasted with bold foliage. The unique habit of growth and foliage makes for a great feature shrub or mass planted. It is extremely hardy and can be used as a low informal hedge or clipped to shape for a more formal hedge and sculptural topiary.
Colour: Assorted Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 1m x 75cm
The twisting, tangled stems of this native Climber make for an interesting and useful plant that can be trained as a climber or used to scramble informally wherever you want quick cover and a plant of interest. Plant in morning sun in soil that does not completely dry out in summer. Semi-evergreen.
The flowers on the female form of Muehlenbeckia are inconspicuous but emit a pleasant fragrance. The flowers are followed by little white berries. This plant also responds well to clipping and is often used for informal topiary work.
Habit: Twisting Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 45cm x spreadscm
The most floriferous of the olearias. In spring this shrub is smothered in large clusters of white flowers. Olearia cheesemanii or tree daisy is an evergreen NZ native. It is a medium growing bushy shrub with narrow pointed thin leathery dark green leaves. In spring large panicles of daisy like flowers appear. Thrives well in windy conditions. Great for hedging, very clippable, or use in boarder or shrub garden. Evergreen.
Colour: White Habit: Round Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 2m x 2m
This native Daisy is not the easiest of plants to grow but if you have just the right position it is well worth the effort. Large grey green, leathery leaves are highlighted in summer by crisp white daisy flower heads with a yellow centre. Must have a sunny spot with excellent drainage. Evergreen.
Colour: White / Yellow Habit: Spreading Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 60cm x 80cm
Native. A pretty free flowering little shrub with dainty evergreen foliage and myriads of little white blooms with a hint of lavender in the centre that will delight from spring to summer. Plant in a sunny spot with humus rich soil that doesn't completely dry out. Protect from harsh frost. Evergreen.
Colour: White / Mauve Habit: Spreading Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 25cm x 50cm
One of the recent compact and highly coloured cultivars of NZ
Flax. It is perhaps more upright than many, reaching 1.5m or so, yet retains a graceful, arching habit. Leaves are coloured centrally in grey-green, irregularly margined with clear butter yellow with a picotee edging of red. In good light, occasional streaks of pinky-red appear brushed through the entire leaf. Evergreen
This is perhaps easier to accommodate in the mixed border where its bright multicolour appearance can be used to tone and contrast.