Plant Of The Moment

Hyacinthoides hispanica – Spanish Bluebell

This is a classic woodland bulb, growing to about 40cm, putting up leaves and flowering before the tree canopy has come into leaf. Spikes of bright blue flowers rise above strap-like leaves in spring.

Whilst gardeners often seem to wish for the English Bluebell, the Spanish Bluebell is a much better garden plant. Indeed there are named hybrids if you can get them, with “Excelsior” being probably the pick of the bunch. There are also pink and white forms of the Spanish Bluebell as there are of the English.


Click here to view the Hyacinthoides hispanica page in Karin’s Garden.

Phlox subulata “Oakington Blue Eyes” – Moss Phlox

This is spreading evergreen that forms a weed-supressing mat some 15 cm high. Five-petaled lilac flowers with neatly “pinked” tips completely cover this plant in spring.

Oakington Blue Eyes is just one of the many varieties that are readily available from nurseries and garden centres. The foliage is completely covered by the flowers and the evergreen foliage forms and effective, weed-supressing mat.


Click here to view the Phlox subulata “Oakington Blue Eyes” page in Karin’s Garden.

Teleopea speciosissima – Warratah

This is a large shrub, growing up to 3.0M. Striking large red inflorescences in springtime. Each flowerhead is an absolute joy.

There are two of these striking plants on High Street in Motueka. Possibly a casual driver by might presume they had just passed a Rhododendron, but this is much more special than that. It is well worth stopping to admire. And, curiously for such a wonderful and unusual plant, they are not hard to come by. Ours came from Mitre 10 at a perfectly reasonable price.


Click here to view the Teleopea speciosissima page in Karin’s Garden.

Pleione Orchid – Himalayan Crocus

These are small plants with flowers to 15cm followed by leaves to 30cm. Exquisite showy pink to purplish flowers arise on bare stems in spring.

These are charming, vibrant spring orchids. Growers have developed an amazing range of colours, which you can inspect at The Pleione Website. A good range of varieties are available from Blue Mountain Nurseries in Tapanui. These are flowering in my garden just now, having been planted in August. My challenge will be getting them through next winter.


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

Erythronium – Fawn Lily

This is a hardy, spring flowering bulb growing to 30cm, and working as ground-cover once established. Nodding yellow, pink or white flowers over marbled foliage in early spring.

There are few Erythroniums in Karin’s Garden, though I am not sure why. They flower in Late August / Early September and provide a wonderful continuation from Snowdrops and Crocus. They are not easy to find, so get them whenever you can. And the nomenclature may be uncertain – if you see a yellow variety named as E. revolutum that is unlikely to be right. But it honestly does not matter, they are all charming.


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

Polygala myrtifolia “Little Charmer” – Sweet Pea Bush

This is a rounded bushy shrub with oval mid-green leaves, growing to about 1M tall. Pea-like rich mauve-purple flowers appear on the tips of the stems almost all year around.

This is slightly more unusual version of dwarf Polygala than the [justly] popular “Little Bibi”. This one will require some trimming to keep it compact, though you will have to take care not to cut back to old wood that does not regrow.

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

Magnolia stellata “Jane Platt” – Star Magnolia

This is a large multi-stemmed bush or small tree, up to 3M tall, with an open growth habit. More than a dozen 5cm long finger-like petals in each flower, covering this large bush before the leaves open.

There are many Magnolia stellatas in Karin’s Garden, ranging in colour from white through to pink. They are easily the most small garden friendly Magnolia and require no maintenance once established. Also, we just don’t get the kind of frosts that can wipe out the year’s blossom overnight. If you can plant yours so that the ground under the plant is in shade during the heat of a summer day, then that will help greatly in the long run.


Click here to view the Magnolia stellata “Jane Platt” page in Karin’s Garden.

Camellia x “Festival Of Lights” – Spring-Flowering Camellia

This is a well-behaved, upright, evergreen, shrub growing to 3M tall. Miniature, single, pastel pink blooms adorn the glossy green foliage in spring .

This has quickly become a popular plant, since it was bred in New Zealand in 1995. The upright habit and modest ultimate height make is particularly suitable for smaller gardens. It is one of the modern range of Camellias that hold their flowers for longer and do not suffer from Camellia petal wilt.

Click here to view the C x “Festival Of Lights” page in Karin’s Garden.

Crocus biflorus “Blue Pearl” – Silvery Crocus

This is one of the best spring flowering crocuses, flowering in early August. Delicately marked petals are mauve outside and inside white with a yellow throat and orange stamen.

This is a beautiful plant, providing a reliable splash of colour in early spring. Each flower is a stunning creation and it is worth pausing and getting down to really take in such beauty.


Click here to view the Crocus biflorus “Blue Pearl” page in Karin’s Garden.

Galanthus x “Kildare” – Snowdrop

This is a clump-forming bulb that thrives in well-drained woodland situations. Nodding white flowers with delicate green markings, over strap-like leaves, in mid-winter.

Snowdrops are ubiquitous in Northern European gardens, but less so in New Zealand. Their origins are from similar latitudes to New Zealand’s South Island, so the climate is unlikely to be a problem; and they are available. Maybe, if you do not grow up with them you just don’t think to look out for them. Certainly they are a wonderful reminder that the year has turned and days will soon be lengthening.

The particular one pictured here is in a friend’s garden, and it has beautiful “transient” markings, to use the galanthophile terminology, on the outer petals. However all Snowdrops are a delight. If you have the choice, maybe go for the slightly larger and more robust Galanthus elwesii.


Click here to view the Galanthus x “Kildare” page in Karin’s Garden.