Tikorangi notes: April 30, 2010

Latest posts.
1) The flower may look like a white camellia on steroids, but it is in fact Gordonia yunnanensis opening its first flowers now.
2) Lifting and dividing smaller growing perennials is straightforward, but sometimes it can be a bit daunting to know how to tackle huge and tough clumps of large growing plants such as our native flax (phormium) or astelia. We show how in the latest Outdoor Classroom.
3) Despite dry conditions throughout much of the country (and a downpour on Tuesday hardly penetrated the ground at all though it swirled all the mulch and leaf litter around) autumn can be a highly productive time in the garden – our recommended garden tasks for the week.

Grateful for the autumn colour of the humble grapevine

Autumn continues to be unusually dry and calm but as a rule, we don’t do good autumn colour on the coast. We drift so slowly from waning summer into autumn and winter that there is not sufficient temperature change to signal plants to change colour. Added to that, New Zealand gardens use so much evergreen material (and all this country’s native plants are evergreen) that the blaze of autumn colour common to countries with deciduous forests is largely missing. But the grapevines do colour and this one, a fruiting grape, has particularly ornamental foliage.

Curculigo recurvata is not common here and needs s p a c e

In an area where the giant gunneras – both manicata and tinctoria – are on the banned list and recommended for total eradication (they have naturalised too readily even on cliff tops and are swamping out native flora), the Curculigo recurvata in our swimming pool garden has been doing its best to emulate the proportions of the gunnera, reaching several metres across and staging a takeover bid. It is a most handsome plant with its pleated leaves, completely evergreen, but we had to reduce the clump back or we would have no decking left.