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
An attractive and award winning little Carex with variegated arching foliage in shades of cream and soft yellow. Eventually forms a neat and tidy clump. Looks best planted in large drifts to form a carpet under trees etc. Grows best in part shade. Evergreen.
Carex 'Evergold' prefers to grow in a soil that does not completely dry out in summer.
Colour: Brown Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 20cm x 20cm
Ake Ake. A no fuss evergreen foliage shrub that can be used for hedging or background planting. The slightly wavy leaves are shaded purple and bronze and will have better colour if not over-fed or pampered. Will grow just about anywhere except full shade. Evergreen.
Colour: Assorted Habit: Upright Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 3m x 1m
Native. This little mountain Hebe has a somewhat prostrate spreading habit and is an ideal rockery plant. The little leaves are rounded and grey green. White flower spikes appear from spring through to autumn. Needs a sunny spot and well drained to dry soil. Quite hardy. Evergreen.
Colour: White Habit: Spreading Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 30cm x 100cm
This native Hebe can be found growing naturally in Taranaki and around Westport. It has bright green leaves and racemes of pretty white flowers that appear in spring-summer. Very pretty and graceful. Easy to grow in well drained soil, sun or part shade. Evergreen.
Colour: White Habit: Upright Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 100cm x 100cm
Native. Narrow fresh green foliage that looks good all year round and dainty sprays of pale mauve to white flowers from spring to summer. Happy in the sun with well drained soil. Lightly prune after flowering. Originated near the Wairau Falls from Whangarei. Evergreen.
Colour: Mauve / White Habit: Compact Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 100cm x 75cm
Native Flax. Vigorous grower with gracefully drooping foliage heavily variegated yellow with increasing green zone as the leaves mature. Will grow in any reasonable soil. Looks its best in semi-shade. Excellent for accenting in the landscape. H1-2m
Colour: Assorted Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: cm x cm
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.