Kapiti Coast

I've a soft spot for cor­reas, those small Aus­tralian shrubs which do so well in coastal gar­dens. It be­gan when I was a teenager.

NZ Gardener - - Contents -

Ju­lian Matthews is en­chanted by new forms of favourite old plants

Iworked win­ter, Welling­to­ni­ans in a gar­den cen­tre with and baches ev­ery on the Kapiti Coast would come look­ing for Cor­rea alba to plant as a neat, low, bul­let-proof hedge. Some of those hedges are still flour­ish­ing to­day and I en­joy see­ing their close-clipped yet not overly for­mal out­lines as I head to the beach.

Cor­rea alba is an out­stand­ing plant in many ways, but while the flow­ers have an en­chant­ing bell shape, they are far from colour­ful – their pale green­ish-yel­low tones make them al­most dis­ap­pear among the fo­liage.

Re­cently, a new form of cor­rea has burst onto the gar­den cen­tre scene.

Cor­rea ‘Can­berra Bells’, bred for and re­leased to co­in­cide with the Aus­tralian cap­i­tal’s cen­te­nary in 2013, has red and yel­low bell-shaped flow­ers which make quite a show dur­ing au­tumn and early win­ter. It’s a com­pact lit­tle shrub, made all the more so by a lit­tle tip prun­ing after flow­er­ing. Give it plenty of sun and well-drained soil, and it will be­come a talk­ing point.

Speak­ing of dis­tinc­tive Aussie plants, I was pleased to see that Eu­ge­nie at Te Horo Gar­den Cen­tre was stock­ing the New South Wales Christ­mas bush,

Cer­atopetalum gum­miferum, a tall and slen­der ever­green tree which has white flow­ers in mid-sum­mer, fol­lowed by red bracts in late sum­mer.

Another de­light­ful, small Aus­tralian-bred

(al­though not Aus­tralian na­tive) shrub is Ti­bouch­ina ‘Peace Baby’. I wrote about this some time ago, but then it seemed to dis­ap­pear from gar­den cen­tres. Now it’s back and I feel is worth giv­ing a men­tion again as it has proved to be such a good per­former in the gar­den here and has re­mained bushy and lit­tle more than a me­tre high. Such a com­pact habit means that there is no wind dam­age, whereas the taller-grow­ing ti­bouch­i­nas such as the very pretty and aptly named ‘Blue Moon’ are of­ten miss­ing a branch or two after a storm. The flow­er­ing per­for­mance pro­longed and the fo­liage again in spells is au­tumn. al­ways is as­ton­ish­ing, in spring at­trac­tive In be­tween and hav­ing sum­mer, and times, the two bronze-coloured buds are a sub­tle fea­ture to en­joy too.

‘Peace Baby’ is re­garded as drought­tol­er­ant once es­tab­lished, but I no­ticed that my plant did suf­fer in the sum­mer a bit and now has signs of sil­very thrips on the leaves, a sure in­di­ca­tor that a few deep wa­ter­ings would have been prefer­able to my ne­glect. By con­trast, a newer plant I’d added to another part of the gar­den that re­ceived reg­u­lar sum­mer wa­ter­ing is pris­tine and was flow­er­ing its socks off again at the start of win­ter.

I started planting abu­tilons more than 30 years ago.

I did it as much for their abil­ity to lure tu¯ to the gar­den as for their year round dis­plays of colour­ful flow­ers. But as I grow older and look to a more prac­ti­cal style of gar­den­ing, the abu­tilons’ need for fre­quent prun­ing has seen them be­come less prom­i­nent.

One that re­mains in favour, how­ever, de­spite a de­cid­edly way­ward, wan­der­ing growth habit, is the climb­ing form of Abu­tilon in­signe. It should be treated as a climber as it is a lit­tle dif­fi­cult to con­trol as a shrub. It’s re­garded as a col­lec­tor’s cu­rios­ity, and is def­i­nitely a source of year round in­ter­est with its rough-tex­tured, deep green fo­liage and the flow­ers which are a deep, sump­tu­ous ma­roon colour, like some­thing out of an old ta­pes­try. It’s avail­able from Woodleigh Nurs­eries (woodleigh.co.nz).

There are some great lit­tle art gal­leries on the Kapiti Coast.

It was while brows­ing in one of them, the gor­geous Tutere Gallery at Waikanae Beach, that I no­ticed some large and shapely jugs which took my fancy. They had been made by Otai­hanga pot­ter Re­becca Neal.

Gallery owner Kate Hart­mann men­tioned that Re­becca was good at do­ing com­mis­sioned works, and the up­shot of this was that Re­becca vis­ited our gar­den, went away with a bunch of our favourite fo­liage and flow­ers, and pro­duced a mag­nif­i­cent, big glazed jug dec­o­rated with their im­ages.

It now sits on our blue deck, along with two more of her colour­ful and shapely jugs… how quickly ob­ses­sions take hold!

I feel that the jug will re­main a memento of the gar­den long after we have moved on. Re­becca can be con­tacted via email at neal.ce­ram­ics@gmail.com.

Cor­rea ‘Can­berra Bells’.

Ti­bouch­ina ‘Peace Baby’.

Abu­tilon in­signe.

Re­becca Neal jug.

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