I thought it would be fun to change things up a bit this week, in honor of Halloween, and share with you some of the plants in my garden that aren't so, well, lush. In fact they've been said to look dead. I can still hear my mother-in-law when Andrew and I selected this Pseudopanax ferox at Cistus Nursery, "you're paying $30 for a pot with a few dead brown sticks in it?" yes, yes we did. And it's grown rather nicely...
From Cistus: "One of those cool dinosaur plants found down Kiwi way that catches the eye and triggers the lust gene in plant geeks and adventurous gardeners. Juvenile leaves are dark brown, long, very narrow, stiff, and saw-toothed, growing downward from a central stem -- odd indeed. Slow growing, trees reach 20' in 20+ years, only then producing adult foliage, shorter, wider, and green. Sun to dappled or bright shade and regular summer water. Frost hardy in USDA zone 8b in a sheltered location, though even in Portland we keep most of ours in containers and shelter during winter cold."
Another Pseudopanax, this one P. crassifolius. Like P. ferox the juvenile foliage differs greatly from that of the mature tree. From the San Marcos Growers website: "The dimorphic changes between a smaller juvenile and the mature plant is common in New Zealand plants and is thought to be a defense mechanism to prevent animals (perhaps even the legendary Moa, a large flightless and now extinct bird) from browsing a young tree."
This one is Pittosporum divaricatum...
The Cistus description: "This plant, on our lust list for years, is in many ways a typical New Zealand citizen, with tiny, only 1/4", narrow, toothed leaves of nearly jet black, providing difficult grazing for beaky animals…all this on a densely upright, divaricating shrub. Eventually to 8' or more, but easily kept at 3-4', producing small, blackish purple flowers and, with age, larger leaves. Is there a theme? Striking pot or garden specimen. We suggest planting with silver foliage plants so youngsters don't get lost or stepped on. Prefers some summer water where dry. Has proven hardy to 10 °F or so, USDA zone 8."
See there are leaves!
This spooky little plant, also from New Zealand and also from Cistus (coincidence?), was a gift from Sean Hogan last summer. Pittosporum patulum, I trust you'll kindly ignore the oxalis on it's right.
The next plant, Muehlenbeckia astonii, looks a little livelier at the moment with its small green leaves, but once they go away and just the tiny branches remain this plant almost disappears: "This amazing little shrub has become a favorite at our nursery. Much like the divaricating zig zag branch pattern of Corokia cotoneaster this shrub has even more zig and zag. The twisting little stems surround the shrub and build a perfectly round net of branches. Tiny paw shaped leaves appear in summer in a swish of green. They quietly go away in winter but the shrub remains charming. A netted shrub. Tiny cream flowers in summer go almost unnoticed. What is really fantastic is this small shrub (To 3' tall and rounded to 3' wide in 5 years) is completely hardy to cold. Surprising since its a New Zealand native. A piece of living sculpture with a soft mein. Drought tolerant. For full sun to quite a bit of shade." - Cistus.
Another Muehlenbeckia, M. ephedroides. This one was recently picked up at Xera Plants, and is in holding (yes, in the denial garden) until I decide where to plant it in the spring.
Would you have guessed it's also a New Zealand native? Of course you would.
Sophora prostrata 'Little Baby' has a coloring which makes it look little less crispy, but it's still all about the zig-zag branches and what the heck since it's another one from New Zealand I figured why not include it...
"A smallish shrub from New Zealand with narrow wiry stems growing in a zigzag fashion, bearing pretty leaves with tiny leaflets. Golden orange pea flowers are produced late in the season. Best in full sun, lean soil and not much fertilizer. Most we've seen reach 4 ft or so in a Rastafarian tangle. Frost hardy in USDA zone 8, possibly into zone 7." - Cistus
And finally Corokia Cotoneaster...
"Why, its not a Cotoneaster at all, in fact Corokia is a member of the dogwood family and evolved its twisted zigzagging stems and small leaves to fend off grazing by giant birds in New Zealand. The birds are now extinct and we are left with this shrub as a natural bonsai. To 4' tall and 3' wide. Full sun to part shade. Regular water. Great winter container plant. Yellow flowers in summer followed by red berries." - Xera Plants
Now of course I'm visualizing an entire spooky garden made of of these crazy plants from New Zealand. Of course I'd need to sneak in a Rosa sericea ssp. omeiensis f. pteracantha (Wingthorn Rose), it's blood red thorns would be just the thing to go with all these dark wiry plants!
I hope you've got lots of fun (and a little spooky) things planned for Halloween. Stay safe and as always please tell us about what plant you're currently enamored with in your garden...
All material © 2009-2013 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.