Choosing plants for tricky spots

July Wk 3

When buying plants for the garden it’s tempting to just grab what looks good at the time. This sometimes works out but if you’re after a plant for a difficult situation – such as heavy or boggy soil, salt spray and wind, or heavy shade – it’s worth doing a bit more research before making your purchase. A chapter in the latest (77th) edition of Yates Garden Guide, with the apt title Plants for Special Conditions, provides some tried-and-true suggestions for those tricky spots. Examples are:

For seaside gardens:

Coast banksia – Varies from a stunted shrub to a tall tree, depending on conditions, and has soft yellow flower cones in winter.

Corynocarpus (Karaka) is one of the best choices for planting in coastal situations.

Lavender, which has a soft grey covering over its leaves, comes in many forms. The downy coating protects the foliage from salt damage.

Coprosma is often called mirror bush because of its shiny leaves. Their reflective surface not only bounces light, it sheds the damaging salt that’s carried in on the sea breezes.

Hebe speciosa occurs naturally on the coast. With its lush, glossy leaves and purple or magenta flower spikes from January through to October it is one of the toughest coastal hebes for seaside garden conditions.

For shaded gardens:

Acanthus, known as oyster plant because of its purple/white, shell-shaped flowers, has dark, strongly-lobed, dramatic-looking leaves.

Arthropodium, the New Zealand renga renga lily, forms clumps of grey-green, softly recurved leaves. Sprays of tiny white flowers stand high above the foliage through late spring and early summer.

Clivia (kaffir lily) has dark green, strappy leaves and bright orange, cream or yellow flowers in late winter or spring. It survives well in dry shade.

For boggy conditions:

Cannas (pictured), with their showy, tropical-looking blooms, grow well in damp spots.

Cyperus, the Egyptian papyrus, grows into a colony of tall stems topped with heads of fine threads, somewhat like a fibre optic lamp. Dwarf papyrus has umbrella-like heads of green leaf-like bracts.

There are many other excellent planting suggestions to be found in Yates Garden Guide. Also check for good gardening information.


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