Colour in the garden for Summer

Hello to all our good keen gardeners,

It's the week before Christmas; what's your garden looking like? Fantastic I hope! If not, then is it the plants or the style that you don't like?

I have been very busy over the last six weeks. Educating garden groups about which plants, from my experience, I have found to be very reliable garden performers. Today I want to  mention some perennials that I personally think are outstanding performers and the conditions they like.


1. ATHYRIUM SILVER FALLS (Japanese painted fern): This shade-loving fern is absolutely amazing. Very striking foliage that looks like highly polished silver, fantastic for any shady garden. Will grow perfectly under the second canopy of foliage. It dies down in the winter, but more than makes up for this when it emerges in spring. It's one of the very first perennials to come to life and an outstanding display does produce! Plant them at the base of pots in the garden to help soften the overall look. There is a close plant relative, in the same Athyrium series called URSULAS RED - also a very good performer that will also guarantee to catch your eye. It has maroon tones in the leaf colour.

2. PODOPHYLLUM KALEIDOSCOPE: This plant stole the show at our recent garden group visits. What a real eye catcher, with striking hexagonal shaped leaves, beautiful leaf markings and at this time of the year, lovely shiraz wine coloured flowers hanging vertically under the leaves which eventually turn into seed pods. From my own garden trials, I have found this plant is very easy to look after, but it just doesn't like our hot New Zealand sunshine. This plant is a great substitute for the common hosta and I think it's a lot more rewarding and showy!

3. LAMIUM SILVER  BEACON: A truly great shade-loving ground cover that thrives right in under every other plant layer in the garden. It's foliage is a real silver colour and will grow quite comfortably across bare areas of ground, preferably somewhere where it won't dry out and get bleached from the sun! Great for covering the ground and keeping the weeds away. I like to cut off the foliage once a year with hedge clippers at about 50mm above the ground. This helps to rejuvenate the plant with a fresh set of stems and leaves.


NIEREMBERGIA BLUE SKIES - I have recently trialled this new purple/blue flowered perennial to know that it's going to be widely accepted in NZ gardens — it's a real beaut! Millions of purple-blue flowers are constantly on show on this compact 60cm x 60cm plant - from early Summer right through to the Autumn — and it doesn't even need deheading, it takes care of the old flowers itself and they disappear without a trace. Definitely likes full sun. From my own experience its a true 10/10 performer; great for pots/containers, or in the summer  border where you want good continual colour.

ALSTROEMERIA PRINCESS SERIES - These new compact growing alstro varieties directly from Holland are very, very good performers! There is currently about 12 different flower colours available in the series - one to fit everybody's taste! They really perform outstandingly well in a hot dry, sunny spot. The flowers will last for up to three weeks in water, but the main thing is when you pick the blooms, make sure you pull out the flowering stem rather than cutting it off with secateurs because this discourages flowering. I have — at the moment — a row of these alstroemerias in our own garden that I think is one of the best flowering displays I have ever seen. The plants were planted in late August and at the moment you can hardly see any leaves because there is so many flowers.

CANNA TROPICANNA: I personally like this perennial — the most amazing display of maroon/burgundy striped foliage with the brightest orange flower. I was at my sister- and brother-in-law's garden in Tauranga yesterday; they had a big drift of about 50 plants of this colourful character and it looked amazing! There is another canna from the same breeding stable, which has just been released called TROPICANNA BLACK. I have just bought three plants to trial it in our garden, so I will keep you informed of its progress and performance over the Summer months.

If we continue to get a bit of natural moisture once a week, then our gardens will keep on flowering. If things get a little dry and windy, you can help the plants in your garden by giving a really good watering once a week.

I hope you all have a fantastic Christmas and New Year and I look forward to passing on further tips and tricks in the garden in 2013!


Rukuhia Homestead Landscaping

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Graeme Burton - Landscaper - Rukuhia Homestead, RD2, Ohaupo 3882
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