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NZ Gardener - 2021-10-01

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new plants to love

ASHBURTON

Spring is in the air and with days becoming longer, we find spots in our garden that need a new plant and this is the time to head to a nursery to find one! This season, some new and exciting lavenders are being released. The new Lavender Lavish series are compact, and the flowers are the star of the show. Most stoechas lavenders only have flower at the top of the flowerhead, but these have flowers all down the flowerhead, and they hold for many weeks. They attracts bees to the garden too, which is an added bonus. These Australian-bred plants are often called French lavender and have been carefully selected over a period of years, and these cultivars are the best for flower and compact habit. These lavenders are tolerant of dry conditions as well as humidity and will even take a light frost. They will thrive in a large pot too and a light trim is beneficial when the first flush has finished. There are lots of colours to suit all tastes. Hostas are starting to look their best and now is the time to look around for some new cultivars. They thrive in good compost and some fertiliser when planting as they are gross feeders. I put a little old sawdust and horse manure around mine this time of the year, and find it helps keep the snails and slugs at bay. If this does not work, you may have to use slug bait. Hosta ‘Autumn Frost’ makes a compact mound of rich frosty blue leaves, widely margined bright yellow at first in spring and later in summer fading to a creamy white. This hosta will grow 30cm high and 60cm wide so could be added to the front of the border. Hosta ‘Bulletproof’ is a winner as it is slug resistant, and has wonderful thick and rubbery deep blue leaves that hold its colour all summer if kept in a shady spot. It is a sport from the famous and beautiful ‘Halcyon’. It will grow 40cm high and 80cm wide, so excellent for planting a little back from the front of the border. It will be a standout in the shady border, so perhaps grow a group of three. Hosta ‘Catherine’ has dusky blue leaves which are heart-shaped with a deep gold centre. This is a medium grower and is suited for a pot in a shady position or try it in the front of the border. I have this plant in our garden and it is a standout in the crowd. A little shade from the midday sun would certainly be beneficial. Hosta ‘Pineapple Upside Down Cake’ is a fabulouslooking plant when established. It produces a fountain of golden foliage with rippled dark green margins. In spring, the leaves emerge all green but the centre quickly develops and brightens to gold as the summer progresses. Give this beauty plenty of light to get the colour contrasts. Will grow up to 50cm and spread about a metre. Hosta ‘Leading Lady’ is well worth planting as it produces a large upright plant with big broad leaves with wavy gold margins. Prominent veins add beauty to the plant. Leaves become quite shiny in summer and the margins becomes creamy white. Will grow 45cm high and 80cm wide. Hosta ‘Pandora’s Box’ is a fantastic dwarf cultivar and well worth growing in the front of the border or in a pot. I grow mine in a pot and it thrives in good potting mix but if you have a little shade on the edge of the garden try it there. This hosta has small leaves with blue green margins with a white centre. Once established, it creates a compact mound. Iris sibirica are great to plant in the border for spring colour and they usually tend to be blue or perhaps cream. Some of the blue tones are an electric blue and are stunning but this year, a new release called ‘Sun Grooves’ is hitting our gardens and is totally different to anything we have seen. The falls are burnt orange with touches of gold, while the standards are creamy blue and each bloom is about 14cm across. This is a must if you want a real talking point in your garden. I certainly will be planting it as I also like its strappy foliage for summer contrasts.

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