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.
Attractive NZ native grass that forms a clump of tussock-like foliage. The leaves are a dark bronze purple. Upright and graceful, looks fabulous planted in large drifts. Hardy to just about any conditions but happiest in a sunny position that does not dry out completely in summer. Evergreen.
Colour: Assorted Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 80cm x 50cm
Native. A lovely soft bronze- red grass with fine tufts of arching foliage. Grows in a wide range of conditions including coastal. Comans means "like a luxuriant head of hair" hence the common name of 'Hair Sedge'. Looks its best in large drifts. Evergreen.
Colour: Brown Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 30cm x 20cm
NZ Native Grass. This is a graceful little grass or tussock with fine, light silver green needles of foliage that curl over at the top. Looks its best when planted in large groups or drifts. Easy to grow in sun or part shade in average soil. Evergreen.
If your clump of Carex becomes a little scruffy give it a new 'do' by cutting off the top growth - you can be quite severe - and it will rapidly re grow with renewed vigour.
Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 40cm x 50cm
Wetland. Native Grass. A handsome bright green grass that forms into a large clump. Older plants develop a trunk-like mass of old leaves so the grass seems perched on a tall mound - looks very striking. Good for planting in damp to very wet places. Will also tolerate short periods of dryness. Plant around ponds as shelter for birds. Evergreen.
Colour: Assorted Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 1m x 1m
Native. The ubiquitous green Cabbage Tree has earned its place as a NZ icon both in the natural and cultivated landscape. Rich green sword-like foliage that forms a broad head on top of a strong trunk. Panicles of fragrant cream flowers in summer. Grow in sun or part shade. Evergreen.
Cordylines look best planted in groups of 3 or more. They will also do well as a container plant.
Colour: Cream Habit: Upright Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 6m x 2m
Native. An attractive, low growing and compact shrub with dark green foliage and masses of palest mauve flowers in early spring. Easy to grow in the sun with protection from harsh frost. Neat and tidy habit - suitable for a low hedge. Trim after flowering. Evergreen.
Colour: Mauve / White Habit: Compact Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 40cm x 40cm
This little Hebe hybrid is well named as it is indeed delightful. Fresh green narrow foliage and pretty sprays of white flowers from spring to summer. Sometimes the blooms have just a hint of soft lilac. Always looks neat and tidy. Happy in a sunny well drained position. Evergreen.
Prune your Hebe 'Otari Delight' lightly after flowering to encourage new growth. This Hebe was found as a seedling in Otari-Wilton's Bush in Wellington hence the name.
Colour: White / Mauve Habit: Compact Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 75cm x 75cm
Native. An evergreen Hebe which is considered to be one of the best. Hardy and compact with dainty fresh green foliage and short spikes of white flowers which completely smother the plant from late spring through until summer. Happiest in a sunny well drained position. Considered to be very disease resistant.
The 'Wiri' series of Hebe have been bred, selected and named by Jack Hobbs of Auckland Regional Botanic Gardens.
Colour: White Habit: Compact Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 50cm x 80cm
An attractive evergreen native hybrid with an upright growth habit and narrow fingers of foliage. Grows best in full sun to part shade. Plant in rich, moist but well drained soil. Can tolerate coastal conditions. Must be protected from afternoon sun and harsh frost. Native. Evergreen.