Plants Guaranteed to dazzle - 22 July 2010

Hello to all keen gardeners and non gardeners in the Te Awamutu Courier region.I am going to be putting together a monthly article for your local newspaper, writing about aspects of landscaping that I am sure will help you to have a lovely garden and still have the time to pursue your favourite activities.I have been actively involved in the New Zealand nursery industry for 35 years and in this time I have gained a wealth of knowledge about plants, gardening and landscaping that I would like to share with Courier readers.I currently live in Rukuhia and my origins are definitely from the Te Awamutu region _ 30 years ago the Burton family was a household name in gardening in the Te Awamutu and Waikato region, with a large nursery at Te Kawa. 

Today I am going to look at three plants that I think  have stood the test of time and are `tried and true performers' for Waikato Gardens.STAR JASMINE (trachelospermum jasminoides) is regarded by many in the industry as a true 10/10 plant. What more could you want from a plant when it looks great 12 months of the year, with its dark green foliage, and from November right through Christmas and January is showered with masses of small purest white and beautifully fragrant flowers _ a splendid bonus when adding a tropical fragrance to your outdoor summer patio.This plant makes a splendid groundcover. All you need to do is keep clipping it off at 30cm above the ground with a pair of headclippers and it will respond by staying nice and low to the ground. Great in full sun or grows just as happily under big, old deciduous trees with very little sun.If you have no use for a groundcover, then this plant is just as happy growing up a trellis or pergola post. It is often shaped into clipped topiary, for people after the designer-look formal garden. As far as a groundcover or as a climber you will be hard pressed to find a better performing plant than the Star Jasmine.Dont get confused or mistaken, this is not a relative of the invasive jasminum polyanthemum which was very common 20 years ago in Waikato gardens, but is now a banned plant.

LOROPETALUM BURGANDY is  another show stopper for 12 months of the year. I often recommend this plant in gardens because it:Looks great with its dark burgandy foliage  all year round.Has a nice tidy semi weeping habit, so looks rather graceful in a pot or in a shrub border.If you never trimmed this plant,it would get to about 1m x 1m wide, but it can be made to look like a wonderful wavy burgandy carpet just by keeping it trimmed at 30cm high.This plant contrasts beautifully with other plants that are dark green, black or white tonings. Looks fantastic trimmed as a a semi formal low hedge, or trimmed up onto a standard and allowed to weep over like a waterfall.I have some of this plant in our  garden that I have trained up on a  stake to 2.5 metres tall, and into the shape of a conical cone shape _ rather breathtaking  specimens in spring.There are quite a few different hybrids of Loropetalum on the market, but some are definitely better than others with foliage colour. Even the plain green form called Loropetalum chinensis can be a real feature, with its cream flowers in spring and like the burgandy forms, you dictate the shape with your clippers and the plant will happily perform for you. If you grow the Loropetalum in a pot, make sure you feed the plant twice a year (September and March) and then it will respond by keeping its good foliage colour. 

CAMELLIA SETSUGEKKA if you want a great camellia variety that will  do everything right, then you should back this beauty.Makes a fantastic flowering hedge, with masses of pure white flowers for a couple of months in the autumn.One of its great attributes is that the old petals drop cleanly, so you are not left with tons of brown looking composted flowers hanging off the branches, which turned lots of gardeners off camellias years ago. They certainly used to look like that back in my grandparents' garden.A good option for screening an unsightly area of the garden or just to keep those awful spring winds away, which will make the rest of your garden feel happier.


Graeme Burton
Rukuhia Homestead Landscaping Ltd

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