Bamboo Orchid

Arundina graminifolia

Also called the roadside orchid but correctly Arundina graminifolia, it evidently grows abundantly along the roadsides in South East Asia. It therefore likes a sunny position and flowers in all but the coolest months. It does need an occasional tidy up because the spent stems send out kiekies (that root easily) which muddle the clean, bamboo-like lines. I am planning a curved row of clumps in the courtyard.



This creamy white Brugmansia flowers all year round in waves about two months apart. It really is a stand out plant in this exposed new garden. Despite the wind it never looks tatty. It grows readily from branches stuck in the ground – a bit like poplar poles. It has a reputation as a dangerous source of hallucinating drugs and some people wont grow it in their gardens. However it is widespread in the north so easily accessible to anyone really wanting to use it for risky purposes. Looking up Fransham’s/Mac’s catalogue I think it is Brugmansia versicolor “Ecuador Pearl”. There is such a range of different colours available now but most are not as floriferous or tree-like as this one and there is a charm in its single blooms. The evening and early morning perfume is an added bonus.

Courtyard Update

Everything is growing well in the courtyard. It will probably end up a jungle but in the meantime it is beginning to soften at the edges, blur the walls and the hard concrete. We have spent a lot of evenings out there over summer and are often joined by birds enjoying the bird bath and any insects they can find. A tomtit is a regular visitor – they must have bred in the bush close by because they are no longer a rare sighting around here.

The crucifix orchids have been in continuous flower.

Vireya “Satan’s Gift” in the pot had a great flowering and the Medinillar has recovered from its tatty winter garb and is nicely co-ordinated with the Vireya “Merlot” which is flowering almost continuously this year.

Crepe Myrtles

Lagerstroemia indica “Kimono”

Crepe Myrtles (Lagerstroemia) are having a wonderful flowering around Whangarei this year. I have only two, a soft pink and a white. They have both made massive new growth on the end of which is the very generous flowering. Obviously severe cut back in winter has paid off making these young plants branch well, producing lots of new growth on which the flowers come. However they do make very nice small trees with attractive bark becoming a feature over winter – they are deciduous. I will have decide how to manage these but am thinking I will keep them well pruned and shrubby. I must look out for a few more different colours – they obviously like this site.

Pink Crepe Myrtle

Big Softie

Big Softie

Rhododendron vireya “Big Softie” was bred by Os Blumhardt. It is a lovely thing but I have had a lot of trouble getting a plant to grow well and flower so I am very pleased to now have this one putting on a good show. It is strongly perfumed and scented the whole courtyard on warm days. It fades to almost white as it ages. I have planted it in a large pot because this bed can get flooded when we get very heavy rain and that is almost guaranteed death to vireyas.

Rain Lily

Zephyranthes candida

I was discussing with a friend when these Rain Lilies flower. Mine had produced only an odd flower since I divided up a very overcrowded pot full of bulbs and planted out over a year ago. I was going to look up flowering time but immediately the good rain we had a couple of weeks ago they suddenly burst into flower and are looking great. I see they are supposed to flower from spring to autumn but even their foliage makes an attractive low, easily maintained ground cover. Zephyranthes candida comes from the Americas. They are evergreen here but evidently deciduous in dryer or colder climates.

To Survive or Not

My poor three Brazilian Fern Trees (Schizolobium parahyba) have all died. I am so annoyed! They were beautiful last late summer and autumn – I thought they had really established. The largest was well over 6’ with very long fronds. I was expecting great things this summer. They are deciduous and very fast growing. They were to provide high, dappled shade over a variety of plants that enjoy some shelter from bright summer sun. I’ve decided not to persevere – they are expensive and obviously don’t like my winter wet soil conditions. I’ll have to rethink the whole area.

Dead Brazilian Fern Tree

Allamanda schottii

Also nearby and also looking dead were three Allamanda schottii. However in the last 3 weeks they have come to life and are even flowering. Let’s hope they are now well enough established to spend winter evergreen.