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Nikau Hill Nursery Newsletter May 1 2008

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Nikau Hill Nursery www.nikauhill.co.nz

R D 1 Marton info@nikauhill.co.nz

Phone 063274131

Fax 06 3274133

Cell 0272407326


Welcome to our late October to November newsletter. I hope you are having fun this weekend and are not too wet. What a funny month it has been. Just when you think you are going to scurry about in all those forgotten little corners in the garden, the gumboots come on again and it’s back to the shed. November is one of my favourite months as everything is so sparkly. The hostas are lush, the trees and shrubs are bright with unspoilt leaves and it is when the vegetables start producing fresh salad greens. Life is good when the ground warms up.

This article is about plants that have red, black or burgundy foliage either all year or when in leaf. I like to use them in the garden. I find the deep red rests my eyes and adds some variation to all the green. It gives the garden a more exotic look and provides different texture. If I am planning a native garden the brown flax that are smaller growing make a real feature. My favourite is Black Rage as it is not too big. Dark Delight is another with more purple tones to the dark foliage. For a very low growing plant you could use the low growing Thumbelina or Surfer Boy, meulhenbeckia astonii and the low growing corokias such as Black Prince. Coprosmas with dark foliage are also useful. For shelter plantings there are the leptospernums or ornamental manukas, pseudopanax, and the big bronze tenax flax for wet areas along with the really dark bronze cookianum flax for drier places. The hoheria ‘Purple Wave’ is ideal for foliage contrast in shelter belts.

Flat and low growing groundcovers that are perennials make a difference. We have a black clover called Trifolium or Black Shamrock. It is great in a pot. Others I love are the black parsley Anthriscus ‘Ravens Wing’ and the Heucheras Amethyst, Quicksilver and Velvet Knight. Black mondo grass is always popular. For native gardens there is a lovely rosette plant called Geranium ‘Purple Passion’. I like a Leptinella called Platts black as a groundcover in semi shade. In the vegetable garden the fancy red lettuce leaves and purple sage are perfect. The reddest grass we grow is the Japanese blood grass, Imperata cylindrical ‘Red Baron’. There are many red toned grasses.

For the bog or moist garden there are two ajugas with vivid flowers in spring and Lysimachia c. purpurea with yellow flowers, heucheras such as Amethyst and all the various hybrids. Succulents come in red and burgundy. Aeonium Schwarzkopf is an old, tried and true performer in cool or hot areas. The black rosettes on 70cm stems are so easy to grow. Sedums and semperviviens also come in red and black. Echeveria ‘Hot Chocolate’ not only has brown foliage but vivid red flowers in later summer.

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<<From other column


Bolder perennials are plants like Canna America as it is vivid in foliage and has huge red flowers. Many cannas have dark leaves. The dahlia Bishop of Llandaff is an old variety with tall, finer black foliage and single red blooms. It was our family garden for years until I lost it and finally I have it back. I love its boldness in summer and autumn. Ligularia seedlings from Britt Marie Crawford make fantastic big round foliage patches in moist semi shade. The boldest and darkest coloured water plant is black taro, Colocasia esculenta. It will grow in mud or in a pot of water or a pot of moist soil. Other dark coloured water plants are the waterlily ‘James Brydon’ with deep burgundy foliage and the tall red flowering Lobelia cardinalis ‘Queen Victoria’.

Specimen trees and shrubs come with burgundy foliage. One of my favourites, especially for smaller gardens is the wonderful leafy maple, Acer palmatum atropurpureum, as it is fairly tough yet makes a small tree with a canopy. I grow it with the weeping lime coloured grass, Hakonechloa under it. For more sheltered places the weeping maples with red foliage are very special. Acer dissectum ‘Crimson Queen’ is a tried and true variety but no good in the wind. The purple smoke bush hybrids, Cotinus ‘Grace’ and ‘Velvet Cloak’ have deep burgundy foliage that is stunning. Grace makes a 3m shrub with fantastic, fluffy masses of purple smoke flowers. Velvet Cloak is a smaller grower with smaller burgundy foliage and striking smoke bush flowers. Taller trees with bronze or burgundy foliage are Gleditsia triacanthos ‘Ruby Lace’, 6m x 4m and Cersis Canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’, 3.5m, suitable for sheltered, well drained places. There are many other burgundy foliaged plants and some of the best are in the prunus family. The flowering plum, Prunus ‘Thundercloud’ has small pink flowers and the flowering cherry plum Prunus cerasifera ‘Nigra’, 8.5m is very dark.

Regards Doreen Higginson


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