Chamaedorea costaricana

This palm in the courtyard has done exactly what I wanted it to do –provide quick structure and texture against the house. It was expensive and there was some doubt expressed by the supplier about the amount of shade here but it has stayed this bright green with its fronds unaffected by the wind and sun it does receive here. It is Chamaedorea costaricana. There is a wide range of Chamaedoreas, all supposedly requiring shade. I hope it doesn’t get too big – I might have to thin out some of its stems if it keeps spreading. I wish my several Dypsis boronii palms were doing as well but they were very small when I planted them.



The Pleiones have found their feet, as it were. I was concerned that the flooding in the courtyard would be the end of these little gems but they are making a great show so must be well rooted in under their blanket of mulch. I have some white ones too in another spot but they haven’t flowered this year. Perhaps I should move them.

Whangarei Quarry Gardens

I love visiting other gardens and hadn’t been to the Quarry gardens since they were severely damaged by the 500 year downpour on 18th July. The recovery has been amazing with very little damage obvious now 6 weeks on. I photographed these cycads busy raising their cones despite the cold weather.

We added up August’s rainfall and compared the last three months of this year with last year. There was 95% more rain in June, July and August than in 2019. No wonder we were feeling very wet and miserable but probably it is good that we had so much to compensate for the very dry summer. Our water table has recovered well but not all in the North has had such good rain.

Sealing Drive

After some research, including checking out friends’ drive, we decided to asphalt the steep part of our drive using re-constituted asphalt. This is asphalt removed from sealed roads during maintenance work. Paradise Quarries have done the work which is not complete.

Laying Ashphalt

The material is tipped off a truck and laid with a bobcat. At that stage the heavens opened so it was the next day before it was sprayed with seal, left for a day and then rolled

Spraying Seal

This sealing and rolling procedure is repeated in another 5 days followed by a final rolling two weeks later. During this time only light vehicles can drive on it. It is looking very smart already and will stabilise the steep piece of our driveway. We still have metal chip as the surface in the flat area between the courtyard and the shed where cars turn and park.


Subtropical Ash

Fraxinus griffithii

This small tree as proven to be a very successful screen for me. An evergreen ash was something I had never heard of but I am so pleased I took a punt and bought several to plant near our boundary with our neighbours to the north where we wanted permanent, attractive screening. Fraxinus griffithii comes from South East Asia and is a fast-growing, small tree with shiny, pinnate leaves. I am waiting to see the large panicles of white flowers which smother the tree in summer.

Fraxinus griffithii

Brave Showing

Hellebore “Anne’s Red”

This poor new plant of Hellebore “Anne’s Red” is making an amazing show despite the shocking weather and flooding it has had to endure. You can see where the flooding as scoured out all the mulch. The other seedling hellebores nearby are still growing away too so I’m hoping next year they will all be flowering well, making a nice, small collection.


Storm Damage

Snapped Queensland Frangipani

Recent high winds have caused quite a bit of damage, especially amongst our young trees. One snapped off completely, but you can see it has started to shoot away already. It is a Queensland frangipani (Hymenosporum flavum) which is fairly brittle but which doesn’t mind hard pruning so I expect this will soon have several strong new branches. They flower profusely in spring for a long time attracting the tuis and scenting the garden. We have several of these planted in the garden. They are evergreen, providing good screening as well as being very attractive.

We had to stake several trees that had survived up until now without staking.

New Plants

At the beginning of July we had a revamp of some of the driveway planting. The corner of the garden was empty and I had two special plants to add there. One was a gift from a friend who wanted to remove it from his garden where it had become too large. It is a bit of a gamble. It could very well not survive. It is Cussonia paniculata which is a lovely blue grey foliage plant – very architectural. Jason and Ryan dug it up but could get very little root ball. It is 2m tall and hates wet feet. The ground is heavy clay. So we built up a mound of good top soil using some big stones to keep all in place, staked it well, removed almost all the leaves and are waiting anxiously to see if it survives.

Cussonia paniculata

Right on the apex of the bed we planted an Australian grass tree, Xanthorrhoea, a vigorous growing blue/silver species. It also dislikes wet feet so is also raised up on a mound.


Near them at the edge of the drive the supposed windbreak plants have never thrived. I decided to remove them and plant a row of Corokia which will hopefully quickly make a thick, dense hedge, stopping the wind which whips down the drive. So strong has this been recently that I had to quickly stake these plants making an embarrassingly poor job of it by putting in the very visible stakes at all different angles, rather ruining the tidy site Jason had constructed.

drunken stakes

Agapetes ?


This pipe was brought from the farm – a broken culvert rescued for later landscaping, in the way you do, slowly accumulating a pile of “rubbish” looking for a home to justify the initial decision not to dump.

This plant also came, via a cutting, from the farm. It was unspectacular on a low log where the hanging flowers were difficult to see. It looks very happy here and fits into the surrounds well so I hope in future it will be spectacular in flower.

I think it is A. hosseana and my original plant definitely was because it came from Os Blumhardt who collected it on the mountain Doi Suthep in Thailand in 1979. However I was given a plant of a more spectacular Agapetes grown by a friend and I may have ditched hosseana in favour of the improved flowers. Many Agapetes species come from the Himalayas. They are almost epiphytes, preferring well drained sites and forming an enlarged lower stem which provides a water storage buffer which sustains it during long dry periods.