Along with bikes, classic cars and sea fishing, I like gardens; if not the actual act of gardening! Where we live in NZ, it's a very mild climate and frosts are rare. Much of the area is bush-covered including a fair bit of our property but there's still space for interesting stuff to be grown which is generally low maintenance. We're not into formal European-style gardens so in addition to various citrus trees, apples and plums, we like to grow colourful plants and have plants in flower the whole year round. As we're only a few days into summer and just for a change from things automotive, I thought I'd share some of the plants which are making a great show right now.
We overlook Coromandel Harbour and have tree ferns, succulents and native trees planted in the front garden, with lower colourful plants under and between them. The two spiky plants almost centre are Yucca Rostrata Sapphire Skies. Wonderful for impaling incautious grandchildren and unwary visitors.
The following bromeliad is one of the really weird ones in our collection. The leaves aren't much to look at, just being green and narrow but it throws out flower spikes about 50 cm long which last for about 9 months and look like something out of a sci-fi movie! I'm terrible at keeping the name tags and can't remember what it's called. It's a prolific grower and we've divided it up and foisted it on unlucky neighbours up and down the street.
The Guzmania is another type of bromeliad which produces a scarlet bract about 50 cm tall with yellow flowers at the top. We call it a Triffid for anyone who is familiar with the original John Wyndham book or the movie.
We have many more types of bromeliad in the garden but they don't flower at this time of the year. One particular type is about 1.5 metres across!
The purple-flowered ground cover is Spanish Shawl from Mexico and Guatemala. We have a number of tree fern trunks which have remained standing after they have died and provide a nice platform for Spanish Shawl to grow on. Basically zero maintenance and makes an excellent weed mat. The orange-coloured plant in the foreground is a climbing orchid. It used to climb up one of the departed tree ferns but I haven't got round to relocating it.
A rather less exotic plant than those above is the Lacecap Hydrangea. We brought it as a cutting from Tokoroa nearly 20 years ago, much against Jennie's wishes as she doesn't like it. Consequently, it's in a part of the garden rarely visited by Jennie. Quite slow-growing in dry clay soil but it will eventually grow to a couple of metres. We have other hydrangea varieties which Madame approves of!
The Hibiscus is one of several around the garden. It's slow-growing in our more temperate climate as it's a fully tropical plant. Nonetheless, it flowers prolifically and each flower is as big as an adult handspan.
We have a couple of Bird of Paradise plants which form dense clumps up to nearly 2 metres tall. They've just about finished flowering for the year. Another zero maintenance plant which looks spectacular.
We planted the Jacaranda tree back in the early 2000's not long after we'd bought the place. It's in an area of the garden with minimal topsoil and is a slow grower. It was only about 3 years ago that it flowered for the first time. I suspect that it was my threat of cutting it down which prompted action on its part. It's only 3 metres high at present but they do eventually grow into large specimens. More pruning ahead.
The photos below show part of Petra's pottery for sale on her property.
I might add that we get heaps of native and non-native birds in the garden at this time of year. There are plenty of nectar-producing plants to attract the native Tui. The following photo was taken about 3 weeks ago when our kowhai tree was still flowering.
We also get flocks of Californian Quail in our area and they become quite tame as most people feed them in the winter when food is less plentiful. A few days ago, one of the male quail brought its babies to introduce them - awfully cute.