A Foliage Fix

I'm in serious foliage trouble. The Birthday Rose Garden desperately needs a texture top-up. It needs some foliage. A box hedge? Green and/or black Mondo grass? Swathes of Bergenias? I'm in a complete designer dither.

Check Your Roots

When in doubt, check your roots. Isn't that the first rule of gardening - to think from the ground level up?

 Good neighbours, until that flax grows too big...
Roses and Flaxes

I'm a New Zealand gardener. We're spoilt for choice as far as native evergreen foliage plants are concerned. In the autumn and winter months those of us sensible enough to have planted Hebes, Corokias, Coprosmas, and hybrid Phormiums feel very smug.

Colourful Gardens

Our gardens are always colourful - some Hebes are winter-flowering with pink, white, or purple blooms, and red, pink and warm cream flax hybrids glow in the sun.

 The flowers are a beautiful soft purple colour.
Variegated Hebe Flowering

In fact, we can enjoy beautiful foliage colours all year round - shining green Pseudopanaxes, copper and rusty red tussock grasses, deep wine red Cordylines, bright orange Libertia... We even do a half-decent line of brown plants - brown is the new black, for the trendy colour conscious.

 A beautiful variegated variety called 'trifida'.

So I should be looking for some well-behaved New Zealand natives to help spice up the Birthday Rose Garden's drab look. It definitely needs a quick foliage fix!

Designing or Dithering?

Obsessed gardeners are always driven to improve this or that. Those of us who refuse to consult a design expert like to approach problems systematically and intelligently. This process is called 'dithering'.

So what do I want to see in my rose garden? Apart from healthy roses, that is. Deep analysis is required. In my preliminary dithering I've chopped down a couple of scruffy grey lavenders and one of the standard olives (it's defiantly giving me the 'fingers' by sprouting). From these actions I deduce that the blue-grey foliage colour is not personally pleasing, and will certainly not be long-lived in my garden.

Serious Shifting

I've also seriously shifted roses in, out, and around to give more rose room - fresh air circulation, access to sunshine. I am thus warned not to fill in all the new gaps with large masses of greenery.

 A lemonwood in flower.

Aargh! This probably means no Hebes, or my favourite, fat flaxes. My roses just wouldn't compete with pushy plumes.

Pittpsporum Pruning

I've given the resident Pittosporum a dome-like trim. There's always a first time to introduce a neatly clipped sphere, but I'm not sure I need more than one. Mind you, they are nicely native, and are beautifully green...

I've even dithered about ground cover, checking New Zealand foliage plants in an online catalogue. I like Acaena inermis 'Purpurea', but I feel dreadfully sorry for it - the common New Zealand name is 'purple defenceless piripiri'. Sounds like it might be completely overawed by the hoards of hole-digging Moosey cats.

Aargh! I'm back full circle to box hedges and/or green Mondo grass. Before I sell out to any vegetative imports, a scouting mission to a couple of native nurseries is in order. Wish me luck!