Plants selected for summer - trees & shrubs that we think will make a wonderful addition to your garden!
See the index below for more specialist pages and plant features
Abutilon x hybridum
The abutilons are more commonly known as 'Chinese Lantern trees' because of their hanging flower bells. The flowers have developed to enable fertilization by humming birds, coming from Chile not China! The bright bells are carried from spring to autumn on a small tree that can attain 2.4-2.5 m in time.
Cultivation Well drained soil in part shade. Not truly hardy they can be grown in sheltered positions or in containers in cool climates. Water well and watch for aphid and caterpillar damage.
Propagation Cuttings in summer
Abutilon x hybridum
Syn. Jacobinia carnea, J. pohliana
Justica carnea far outshines its relative, the shrimp plant (J. brandegeana) that is often grown in conservatories. A tender shrub with fascinating, spiky rose pink flowers all summer it lends a tropical look to gardens, but is for mild climates only. A perfect contrast to the flowers, the pointed leaves are a dull-green and deeply veined. The branches of this small shrub (1.5m (4-5ft) and 0.8m (3ft) wide) are brittle and will not withstand traffic or wind.
Cultivation Frost tender, plant in well-drained soils in full sun. Protect from strong winds. Prune hard in early spring to encourage a dense, compact shape.
Propagation Cuttings of non-flowering shoots in spring
For those of us lucky enough to live in a mild climate, autumn and winter brings with it the season of the Tibouchina. Hairy, fat buds whet the appetite for the wonderful, luscious purple blooms that flower – satiny single five-petaled flowers that can smother the entire plant. The flowers contrast wonderfully with the reddish tint of the new leaves, which develop into a soft, dark green.
Sources Easily available in northern nurseries are Tibochina urvilleana, pronounced tib-ou-shy-na, is also known as Lasinadra semidecandra and grows to 4.5m (15ft), T. granulosa, reaching a similar height, and the low growing hybrid T. ‘Jules’ (1.0m/3ft).
Cultivation Growing in light, free draining soils with some well-rotted compost added, tibochinas need full sun and moisture in the growing season. Prune lightly after flowering to prevent the bush becoming straggly and maintain the shape. Plant in a sheltered place, as the branches break easily if buffeted by strong winds, and protect from frost in cooler regions.
Propagation Cuttings late spring or summer
Evergreen eucryphias add structure to your garden design year round, and the single pure white flowers are not to be missed. A slender column of grey-green foliage Eucryphia 'Nymansay' has lovely late-summer, wide-open white flowers. Definitely a must for anyone with a mid-sized garden, for they eventually reach up to 9.0m (28ft).
Cultivation Prefer a moist, humid climate (although they do grow well in the drier regions of NZ if mulched). A moist soil and good drainage are needed, with the tree in the sun but the roots shaded.
Propagation Seed or cuttings in summer
Big, blousy hydrangeas were once shrubs we associated with our grandmother’s garden, not something we would grow ourselves!
Recent years have seen a re-assessment of these valuable garden plants. The plant most closely associated with the name, H. macrophylla or the mop-head hydrangea, has rounded flower-heads of white, pink or blue; actually showy sterile flowers with much smaller, fertile flowers between. These cover the bushes in late summer and last well into autumn, the flowers fading to green-pink and then drying to a dull, parchment. Large glossy leaves are a great backdrop for other plantings and, blessedly, these shrubs actually like partial shade. Named clones carry deeper pink or blue or even white flowers, but flower colour is affected by soil type – for blue blooms you need acid soil, for pink alkaline (or rich in lime), while white flowers don’t change.
Only one of the many hydrangeas available, H. macrophylla is worthy of garden space in shady and coastal gardens. It is a feature in areas such as Cape Cod where they complement the white clap-board houses perfectly. It also makes a great informal hedge.
Sources Widely available
Cultivation A rich, moist soil that does not become waterlogged, protection from strong winds and, except in cool and moist areas, dappled shade. Grows to 1.5m (5ft) or more. Prune after flowering by completely removing the stems that have just flowered and leave the remaining stems to flower the following year. In humid climates powdery mildew can be a problem but mostly hydrangeas are trouble-free.
Propagation seeds, division
Hydrangea paniculata ‘Grandiflora’ produces spikes of creamy flowers in mid-summer, aging rosy-pink, and smaller, oval and more matt leaves. Growing to 4.5m, it is a rounded shrub that adds a fresh cool look to summer planting schemes.
Cultivation Prefer a rich well-drained soil that does not dry out and semi-shade except in cooler climates. Prune hard in late winter or very early spring to encourage larger flowers. Frost hardy in well-drained soils.
Propagation Cuttings, seed
Cistus 'Bennett's White'
Cistus ‘Bennett’s White’ has bright green leaves and pure white flowers with the typical cistus ‘crinkled’ petals and a golden mass of stamens. An aromatic scent and the slightly sticky leaves are reminders of this plant’s Mediterranean origins. True sun-lovers they thrive in sunny, warm borders with free-draining, even dry, soils. If you garden on a rocky site then cistus will love you, their roots searching beneath rocks and deep into gravel for any moisture, and they are great by the sea.
Cultivation Plant in a warm position in a free-draining, even dry, soil. Not truly frost hardy cistus will survive in colder areas against a warm wall and in gravelly, drier winter soils. Cut back after flowering to maintain compact dense bush.
Propagation Cuttings, seed.