Gardens Illustrated Magazine

JO’S 8 KEY PLANTS

- USEFUL INFORMATIO­N See more of Jo Wakelin’s garden on Instagram @jo.wakelin

1 Euphorbia spinosa The perfectly shaped green domes of this Mediterran­ean species provide a structural element and are often commented on by garden visitors. Height and spread: 40cm x 1m. RHS H4, USDA 8a-9b†.

2 Ballota pseudodict­amnus I love the soft, lichen-green leaves of this tough sub-shrub, and pollinator­s of all kinds mass around the tiny lilac flowers. 90cm x 1.6m. AGM*. RHS H4, USDA 8b-10a.

3 Dianthus carthusian­orum Light wiry stems topped with magenta flowers over a long period. Given to me by my mother, it is a great performer.

80cm x 40cm. RHS H7, USDA 6a-9b.

4 Nepeta tuberosa A tuberous catmint with strong vertical silvery-green stems topped with purple flowers. Dies back when the dry summer heat intensifie­s. 80cm x 20cm. RHS H4, USDA 8a-9b.

5 Hyloteleph­ium spectabile ‘Stardust’ The tiny creamy flowers of this sedum form a cauliflowe­r-like mass in summer. A perfect pollinator magnet. 40cm x 40cm. RHS H7, USDA 6a-9b.

6 Salvia argentea The remarkable furry leaves are a frequently touched textural feature. Plants last for years in the lean gravelly soil.

90cm x 50cm. AGM. RHS H5, USDA 5a-8b.

7 Phlomis italica This treasured phlomis flourishes against a sunny stone wall. Felted, ovate-lanceolate leaves and whorls of hooded pink flowers.

1.2m x 1.5m. RHS H4, USDA 7a-10b.

8 Pseudopana­x ferox A unique evergreen New Zealand tree, the slow-growing toothed lancewood or horoeka adds a touch of architectu­ral zing. Now self-seeding around the garden much to my delight. 6m x 1m. RHS H4, USDA 8a-9b.

*Holds an Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultu­ral Society. †Hardiness ratings given where available.

unable to mix olive-toned New Zealand native species, such as the wondrous Pseudopana­x ferox, the fierce lancewood, known as horoeka, with vibrantly coloured plants from other parts of the world.

The timing of planting and my establishm­ent techniques have been crucial to my success. The best planting window is in autumn, as the summer heat lessens, the nights cool and rains begin. I planted small-grade plants that were very well hardened, and this allowed the roots to establish before the following summer’s stresses.

I also mulched with pea gravel after planting, which has been the other key to plant survival. There was a ready supply from a quarry nearby where the gravel is an unused waste product from the screening process. My use of fertiliser is restricted to bulbs, and I didn’t amend the light soil in any way with organic matter or compost.

My many hours of local rock collecting have led to the creation of lichen-covered swirls and mounds, which reflect the goldmining history of this area, where miners piled rocks in fevered pursuit of gold. I also introduced old rusting water pipes and ironpointe­d bridge piles once used in a river, to symbolise the fact that there is no irrigation in the garden.

The garden now swarms with insects, native lizards dart about, and 35 species of birds have visited. The schist rock walls that enclose the courtyard provide crevices for small native bees, and large bumblebees rumble and crowd the scented lemon flowers of Elaeagnus ‘Quicksilve­r’. Frogs in the large pond are so loud on summer nights that it is hard to sleep.

The golden flowers of New Zealand native Sophora microphyll­a, known locally as the small-leaved kōwhai, bring the native bellbirds, or korimako, to feed on the nectar. I grew these trees from seed I collected from relict trees while riding my horse in the hills, and now the exquisitel­y tuned song of bellbirds brings me a deep satisfacti­on.

Gardening without irrigation has restored my relationsh­ip with rain, and I feel an intensifie­d connection to the sky, mountains and winds around me. But it requires a mindset change. I no longer worry about the deaths of treasured plants during prolonged summer dry periods, as I am confident they will flush into growth again as the cooler, moister autumn returns, much as these species do in their native regions.

Without additional water, the effect of seasonal change in the garden is amplified, and my link to the climate cycle is enhanced. After a long dry summer, the colour spectrum shifts to tawny golds, and many plants enter summer dormancy. There is nothing more joyful than the sight of darkening clouds and that special smell of petrichor that fills the air as autumn rain falls on dry earth.

I no longer worry about the deaths of treasured plants during prolonged summer dry periods, as I am confident they will flush into growth again as the cooler, moister autumn returns

 ?? ?? 4 1 6 2 3 5
4 1 6 2 3 5
 ?? ?? Lavenders, including Lavandula angustifol­ia ‘Pacific Blue’, along with sedums and Oenothera lindheimer­i, continue to sparkle through the summer among the pea gravel mulch while many other plants take on tawny hues and settle into a dry summer dormancy. Although this is New Zealand’s driest region a tantalisin­g summer shower moves across the face of the snow-topped Pisa mountains.
Lavenders, including Lavandula angustifol­ia ‘Pacific Blue’, along with sedums and Oenothera lindheimer­i, continue to sparkle through the summer among the pea gravel mulch while many other plants take on tawny hues and settle into a dry summer dormancy. Although this is New Zealand’s driest region a tantalisin­g summer shower moves across the face of the snow-topped Pisa mountains.
 ?? ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom