Aristea capitata

This plant, probably A. capitata, is from the Cape in South Africa. It is very striking. The evergreen leaves are 1.5m high and the flower stem higher. It is packed with a hundred or more small buds which open a few at a time to bright blue flowers which last just a day. This one has been in flower for several weeks. It is a young plant – a gift – and this is the first time it has flowered. The foliage is very tidy and upright, looking good all year. It has a rhizome-like root. There are other Aristea species around, one being quite invasive, seeding profusely. It has the same bright blue flowers as A. capitata but is a much smaller plant.

Aristea capitata

A Variety of Ajugas

I visited an Ajuga enthusiast recently. I’ve forgotten how many different varieties he has but some a definitely worth having as attractive ground cover with varying coloured foliage and flowers. I came home with some gifts and intend planting them out once I have got them established in pots.

These are the four I chose.

Catlins Giant
Pink Elf
Arboretum Giant
Port Wine

Taranaki Plants

Courier delivery

Yesterday this lovely box of plants arrived from Woodleigh Nursery in Taranaki. They specialise in hydrangeas but also have a few other interesting and hard to find plants. I ordered four hydrangeas, an Isoplexis, a white Ajuga, a white camellia Mine-yo-nuke and a Streptostolen for a friend (I already have it.) They all look so lush and healthy and fresh after their long trip so I am very keen to get them in the ground. It’s a bit late to be planting but 2 of the hydrangeas were not available until now. This nursery was set up by Glyn Church who wrote a very useful book on hydrangeas. He no longer owns the nursery but the new owners are still producing a wide range of fabulous hydrangeas and unusual plants.

Paradise Ducklings

Paradise Ducklings

This time last year it was the Mallard Ducks showing us their ducklings. Now it is the Paradise Ducks. They have been on the pond all year but for the last month Mrs has been flying in and out about 3 times a day—obviously sitting on her nest elsewhere. They have become very tame, hardly moving out of the way as we walk or mow near them. They defend “their” pond aggressively so this year we have had no Spur-winged Plovers around. The incubation period is 30-35 days and the duckling take 8 weeks to fledge so parenting duties are quite onerous. The pair mate for life and although 35% of adult die each year the oldest banded bird recorded was at least 25 years. (info from The Field Guide to the Birds of NZ) Ours should have a good life expectancy with no shooters in the area and strong predator control.

Pari Duckling
Vigilant Father

Leucospernum “High Gold”

L. “High Gold”

This 17 months old plant, was very small when purchased from Protea Patch at Matakana. It has thrived—no watering during the drought. Now covered in flower. I have already cut off 5 stems. I am going to keep cutting the flowers off to maintain a bushy plant. They are very good cut flowers so you can enjoy them inside for long time. Beside it is a King Protea flowering and out of sight a white Waratah which is flowering for the third time. No longer visible because I pruned it hard is the Jazz Protea I blogged earlier. I am amazed at how well they have all done.

“High Gold”


Red Abutilon

This red Abutilon is planted right by the front door. Considering their fast, exuberant growth it is probably not for the long term but in the meantime it is providing some interest and colour. I intend keeping it in check with a regular prune – famous last words! I’m not sure of its name—there seems to be a rash of new abutilons on the market—this was just labelled “red”.

Beneath it is a patch of white parma violets. They are double, strongly scented and a mass of flower now a couple of weeks after this photo was taken. It is a vigorous ground cover but easily kept in check. I pick small bunches to scent the house or give away.


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.