Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Nature's Bird food in Winter

There are many ways of welcoming birds into your garden over winter. Winter flowering plants, such as Sophora Dragon's Gold (mini Kowhai) and Camellias. Another is to keep some of the perennial seed heads in place for them. The Verbena bonariense I grow in my gravel courtyard is purple over summer and attracts bees, birds and butterflies. I leave some of them untrimmed for winter, and am fascinated by the amount of time the small birds spend in them, picking out the seeds. Sooner or later I will trim them back, but if you do have a space in your garden to keep the seed heads on, you be rewarded by the bird life they attract. Trim them as the new growth on surrounding perennials starts up.
Seed eating birds love the Verbena seed heads in mid winter
And butterflies, birds and bees love them in summer

Sophora Dragon's Gold in August - flowers for at least 5 months, and the birds love them. 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Ferns at the Waterfall

Gorgeous day at our waterfall on Sunday - doing some release spraying, and planning where to develop with planting this autumn. Under planting is the next target - don't need any more trees! Will be ferns, ferns and more ferns (I have a secret source in the pine forest), plus splitting my Rengarenga lilies, and various groundcovers such as Symphytum, Violets, Hellebores etc - anything to cover the ground layer. Now the main planting has grown up, I have been cutting lower limbs off trees, to allow views beyond. Makes a huge difference to the feeling of space if you can see beyond, rather than a wall of foliage. This creates spaces underneath that can then have the lowest tier of planting added. That is one of my projects this winter. For more detail on the waterfall, click on the heading in the column on the right.

Rengaremga Lily on the left, Kawakawa on the right
Heart shaped leaves of Kawakawa (Macropiper excelsum)
Hebe flowers are still drawing in the bees
I have so many Rimu planted - one of my favourite heritage trees, and they are
visually rewarding from an early stage.
Looking down towards the boardwalk by the fernery
Limbing up the Titoki  and Kowhai allows views through to the main pond
Gorgeous shiny leaves of Titoki (Alectyron excelsa)
Hoheria populnea
Tree ferns transplanted from in the pine tree forest
Bold leaves of Rangiora (Bracyglottis repanda) next to a Ponga/Tree fern by the stream
View from up on the road looking across some of the wetlands. This was a bare paddock in 2009. 
The cabbage trees are particularly gratifying with quick growth, great survival rates, and now they
punctuate the rest of the more bushy planting. 

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Clerodendrum trichotomum

This gorgeous small tree flowers for several months in late summer and autumn. The flowers smell a bit like jasmine. The leaves are a deep green with purple tinge. Overall the tree gives an impression of pink when it it flowering, because even though the flowers are white, the bracts are pink. I got given a seedling a few years ago, and that young tree is now producing it's own babies. I plan to mass plant them in an area of the garden that I do not want tall trees to hide the view. This will have my new burgundy/pink perennial planting in front of it, which should set each other off nicely! The berries are also really gorgeous - see photos below.



Berries appear in late May. Really distinctive colours!


Friday, March 31, 2017

Myrtus ugni - Chilean cranberry

One of my favourite small shrubs - always looks great, readily pruned to shape, the fragrance of the fruit is amazing, plus the fruit is edible. What more can you ask for? I admit I cheat with the fruit - I squeeze the pulp into my mouth , then throw the rather thick skin away.



Looks great clipped into balls in a potager garden, with pebbles surrounding, or as shown, in my own (above) and a clients garden (below), amongst other plants, like the dahlia. Without knowing it, we have both added the same red dahlia alongside our Myrtus! Roselee's look far better than mine, though - she keeps hers tightly clipped, and check out the amount of fruit.


 I would love to use as a hedge, too. Great alternative to buxus. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Time To Start Planning

With the thought of autumn lurking, I am starting to get booked up again with people realising they need to get planning for autumn and winter planting. The design process takes a few weeks, and then months for structural landscaping. The landscape contractors get very booked up leading in to autumn, so GET PLANNING NOW!! I am usually booked up about two weeks in advance, so the sooner you contact me the faster we can make it happen.

Email: rachel.george@xtra.co.nz - I would love to hear from you!


My planting team hard at work in the mud 
Newly planted landscape transformation

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Pink Shades?!!

I admit I am known for my general dislike of pink. Certainly never worn it, and one of the only colours I had never tried in my own garden. BUT - I am in love with the dusky pink toned Echinacea purpurea and Eupatorium maculatum 'Atropurpureum', so two years ago I created a garden at home based on those two plants. Being a new colour for me, I have been experimenting, with some better successes than others. Needless to say, I am now hooked on these shades of pink - wine, burgundy, crimson, cerise, dusky pinks to name a few.

I had a tricky area behind an ugly pool fence (not up for changing fence at this stage), so colours need to be strong to show up from across the pool, and behind bars. The bold flowers of Echinacea are perfect for this, but to extend the colour season, I have thrown in all sorts of other plants. I bought some verbena the other day - not my fave V.bonariense, but the ground cover plant my lovely friend Becks told me is a 'Nana' plant!! Yes - it is. Honestly - used in the style favoured by the generation that just love all colours of annuals jumbled in together it can be truly awful. But in the right context, I figure it will be spot on - it flowers for such a long time, and has a great display of colour at ground level - just what I am after to complement the leggy Echinacea. Who knows - I might start a Nana plant revolution!
Echinacea purpurea, with pink Allium, and lily above

This is the predominant view from the kitchen, so it needs to be interesting year round.
The ugly pool fence bars don't help, but they are there so let's work around them.
I will be splitting and multiplying the numbers of each plant this year for bolder clumps.
Many of the plants are only new this year.
Salvia with the 'Nana plant' Verbena ground cover underneath!
Dahlias flower for months and months - just keep them dead headed. Should have done that
before I took the photo, shouldn't I? See the pointed head to the right - those ones are the dead
head, not be mistaken for the round buds about to open (not seen in pic). 
Scabiosa 'Crimson Clouds' - another ground cover mass of colour
The different lily species around my garden have been flowering for three plus months

Up to 2m tall Eupatorium maculatum 'Atropurpureum'. Gorgeous flowers, foliage and
stalks, and so tall for the back of the border.  Flowers last ages.

Echinacea, Lilies and Eupatorium
Penstemon Garnet
Photoshopped pic of the Dahlia
There are of course many other plants in this garden (buxus balls, dietes, irises, camellia etc for structure), but this post was about showing you the many pink shades I am experimenting with. Who says you can't change your opinion on colours??? My Mother-in-law thinks this is hilarious, as she has always despaired at my lack of liking for pink! Funny.