Tag Archives: Dichroa versicolor

Tikorangi Notes: May 21, 2010

Latest posts:
1) 21 May: A Worm’s Tale (subtitled: best not display your ignorance on National Radio).
2) 21 May: The perils of monochromatic garden colour schemes (subtitled: we were disappointed in Sissinghurst’s white garden and much preferred the blue and purple border).
3) 21 May: An evergreen member of the hydrangea family that flowers nigh on twelve months of the year: Dichroa versicolor.
4) 21 May: Counting down to our annual spring garden festival – a district round-up.
5) 21 May: Garden hints and recommended tasks for the upcoming week in our autumn conditions.
6) 21 May Autumn flowering sasanqua camellias are tried and true favourites in our climate.


We are not great territory for silver birches. They tend to defoliate long before the summer’s end. Their prodigious quantity of pollen causes hay fever, they seed down far too freely and they are messy darned plants, shedding twigs constantly in our winds. From time to time, we wonder about a death sentence on this betula near our entranceway. But when it is bare, the delicate tracery against the skies is a never ending source of delight. I can’t think of any deciduous tree that brings me such delight in silhouette and as it lacks much foliage for about eight months of the year, that is the dominant picture.

Flagging it on either side are large Queen palms (Syagrus romanzoffiana) now over 50 years old and probably up to 20 metres high. Felix Jury grew these from seed sourced from the Sydney Botanic Gardens. It is a bit of a meeting of two continents, Europe and Brazil – the betula and the palms side by side.

Flowering this week: Dichroa versicolor

Flowering this week and pretty much most weeks of the year here - Dichroa versicolor

This plant has the most endearing habit of flowering pretty well all year. The trade-off is that when you get a plant which flowers in random sequence all over the bush, you don’t usually get the wham bang impact of a mass flowering all at once but it is rewarding to be able to see the deep blue dichroa flowers all year. It is an evergreen member of the hydrangea family, hailing from China, and was introduced to this country by our very own Taranaki nurseryman, gardener and garden writer, Glyn Church. Most of the evergreen hydrangeas are sensitive to frost and cold temperatures but the dichroa has shown more hardiness than you would expect with its large leaves and is fine with moderate frosts. Grow it under some overhead tree cover if you are worried about your winter temperatures. It also tolerates a wide range of conditions, sun and shade, wet and dry.

Left unpruned, it will get quite large – around the 3 metres high and 2.5 metres wide mark or even larger over time but I frequently trim long growths back to a point in the stem where I can see twin leaf buds either side. A little pruning often is a better strategy with this plant if you can. It means you can avoid cutting off the flower buds. You can never have too much blue in the garden I feel, and a plant which flowers for the better part of the year and is a true blue certainly justifies its position.