Category: Uncategorized

Cleistocactus strausii – Silver Torch Cactus


This cactus will grow up to 3M tall, though they are only some 6cm across.
Slender, erect, grey-green columns, with burgundy flowers in spring.

This is not a common plant in Karin’s Garden. This specimen is in our personal garden and we inherited it when we moved there. It is very striking and visitors often comment on it. Probably not a good plant if there are often small children about.


Click here to view the Cleistocactus strausii page in Karin’s Garden.

Magnolia x soulangeana – Saucer Magnolia

This is a large, deciduous tree, growing to 10M in Karin’s Garden. Purple/white flowers cover this tree in early spring, before the leaves emerge.

There are many  beautiful Magnolias around in Karin’s Garden at this time of year. This is one of the larger ones in a garden on Poole Street in Motueka.


Click here to view the Magnolia x soulangeana page in Karin’s Garden.

Euphorbia characias subsp. Wulfenii – Mediterranean Spurge

This is a statuesque evergreen sub-shrub which makes an eye-catching focal point, growing to about 1.2M tall. Masses of extravagant, long-lasting, lime green flowers atop lush foliage.

This is a popular plant in Karin’s garden and rightly so. Some people are never going to be convinced by plants with green flowers, but this one is extremely low maintenance and produces masses of flowers that last for two to three months. As well as being eye-catching at a distance, the intricate geometry of the flowers merits close-up examination as well.


Click here to view the Euphorbia characias subsp. Wulfenii page in Karin’s Garden.

Polygala x “Little Bibi” – Butterfly Bush

This is a compact, evergreen shrub that grows to a  maximum of 1.0M. It has semi-succulent leaves, covered in vibrant purple, pea-like flowers from September through to November.

Polygala is a huge family and you will often be offered varieties of straight P. myrtifolia by garden centres and nurseries. All are free flowering from spring into early summer. Particularly in smaller gardens the compact growth habit of “Little Bibi” makes it a better choice.


Click here to view the Polygala x “Little Bibi” page in Karin’s Garden.

Aloe speciosa – Tilt-Headed Aloe

This one of the tallest Aloes, reaching up to 3M. Tall spikes of bright red flower buds in spring. This is a very striking plant, even when not in flower.

This is not a common plant in Karin’s Garden, possibly because it does grow into a large plant. The one in our personal garden has grown to about 2½M, as you can see in the picture below. And the long, succulent leaves are edged with sharp spines which do tend to snag a passer-by.


Click here to view the Aloe speciosa page in Karin’s Garden.

Coronilla valentina – Mediterranean Crown Vetch

This evergreen shrub has a spidery growth habit and grows to about 0.8M. Fragrant, bright yellow flowers cover this plant for a long period over winter.

To the best of my knowledge these four plants are the only specimens of Coronilla valentina in New Zealand. I had to buy seed from Portugal and pass the phytosanitary requirements of MPI to bring them into New Zealand. However, it is a glorious plant and definitely one that I shall be trying to share around.


Click here to view the Coronilla valentina page in Karin’s Garden.

Daphne odora – Winter Daphne

This is a spreading, slow-growing, evergreen shrub growing to about 1M tall. Fabulously scented, waxy, white flowers from white buds, cover this bush in early spring.

Daphnes do well in Karin’s garden and even a single sprig as a cut flower will fill a room with scent. They are not long lived and are not easy to propagate, but other strongly scented flowers at this time of year are really quite hard to find. Make sure to plant your next one before the current one senesces.


Click here to view the Daphne odora “Leucanthe Alba” page in Karin’s Garden.

Acacia dealbata – Silver Wattle

This is a fast growing, evergreen tree to 30M, that grows readily from seed. Racemes of yellow balls of stamens over blue-green leaves with silvered underside in early spring.

It is that time of year again. This is one of those wonderful plants that produce a wonderful display for no effort on our part. It does have an Award of Garden Merit from the RHS in the UK, but I suspect it is seldom planted here. Most likely the display we see every spring, on river banks and road-sides, results from the plant self-seeding.


Click here to view the Acacia dealbata page in Karin’s Garden.

Rhododendron arboreum – Tree Rhododendron

This is an evergreen tree that typically grows to about 12m in Karin’s Garden. Trusses of pink bells cover this substantial tree in early spring.

There are many of these beautiful plants around in Karin’s Garden and they are flowering early this year. This one is beside the road as you drive from Riwaka into Motueka. Whenever I see a large tree covered in flower in this way, it always seems somehow “wrong” in a very, very good way.


Click here to view the Rhododendron arboreum page in Karin’s Garden.

Iris reticulata – Netted Iris

This is small plant, growing to only some 15cm, which forms drifts over time. Richly coloured fragrant flowers of purple or blue petals with yellow and white markings rise above stiffly erect leaves.

I. reticulata flower early in Karin’s Garden, often before the Snowdrops, making them more winter flowering than spring flowering. These little gems appear so suddenly that they always take you by surprise.


Click here to view the Iris reticulata page in Karin’s Garden.