Six on Saturday – NZ bedding

Dunedin Botanic Garden  has just updated a bed in one of their NZ native plant areas. Walking by quickly one could think “another bedding display” … bedding display!? … with NZ natives? I walk through this garden monthly and was surprised and happy to see this new direction – NZ is a bit shy when it comes to doing anything interesting with our natives. This is essentially a bedding display, although we have almost no  true annuals  [pdf], very few if any half-hardy perennials that I know of, and only a few deciduous trees.

For:  Six on Saturday 03 Aug 2019

It was early morning when I came by so the whole area was in deep shade from a collection of nearby native trees – mainly Metrosideros which are very dense.

Astelia – Asteliaceae

This is probably a pale purple cultivar of A. nivicola. Many of these are very wet tolerant, although once established will tolerate the dry too.

Brachyglottis lagopus – Asteraceae

This will grow in many places from coastal to sub-alpine, but needs some shade, at least in the middle of the day. The foliage to lower-right are its leaves.

Pittosporum patulum – Pittosporaceae

An unusual Pittosporum in that it has a distinct juvenile form, later changing to a completely different form – the highly memorable botanic term for this is heteroblasty! and fun can be had in the garden with it too. This is very common in the NZ flora across many plant families. Pittosporum are fiddly plants to propagate as seeds are coated in a sticky, greasy compound making handling very difficult.

Poa littorosa – Poaceae

These guys come from a very harsh (although not too cold), salty, exposed coastal climate. Garden size likely to be ~1m due to less ideal conditions – in the wild they reach 1.5m. Their natural habitat is the  Auckland Islands

Scleranthus – Caryophyllaceae (family includes Dianthus)

I’m unsure which one this is but probably  S. uniflorus. Scleranthus are quite amazingly tough plants, although they can dieback in the centre unless they are lightly walked on in bare feet occasionally (it presses the stems into soil to keep them establishing new roots), and watered appropriately. They like a gravel base, a colleague used to grow them in buckets of AP40\road construction grade gravel.

Plant family names are essential as they help searching for common characteristics, allelopathy research (the natural herbicides plants use to protect their territory) and also when designing herbicide-matched planting plans. Most chemical manuals omit this.

If you would like to take part in Six on Saturday go here –

3 thoughts on “Six on Saturday – NZ bedding

Add yours

    1. We have quite a few strange Pittos, we have quite a few strange plants. Scleranthus is cool – very tough if planted correctly.

      We also have no native mammals (oh apart from a pink whistling bat – we also have whistling ducks). NZ’s an odd place.

      1. Pink Whistling Bat?! That sounds creepy, . . . and weird. Do they whistle a tune?
        It is remarkable that pittosporum are native there too. I think of them as being exclusively Australian. Is there a species of Eucalyptus that is native there too? I thought I had read somewhere that besides the eucalypti that are from north of Australia, that there was another remote species that might have been native to Mozambique, but I can find no information about it now.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: