Friday, December 23, 2016

November snapshot of a Plantsman's garden near Christchurch, N.Z.


This dashing Kiwi on Mount Southey in the Canterbury mountains of New Zealand is Hamish Brown, an Agronomic Scientist at his day job doing environmental research for a living but in his SPARE time, he climbs mountains (I can attest to that) and he also happens to be a terrific plantsman who has a huge collection of choice plants in raised frames he grows for show and for propagation, and a sizeable garden--I would guess half an acre?--at a new home where he is creating an exciting garden along with his wife Mika (who is also very much a gardener) and their son Sato. The Browns hosted me and Jan our first days in New Zealand--and launched us on this fantastic trip we've been sharing...I thought you (reader) might enjoy seeing a few of the plants a keen plantsman living near Christhurch might have in their gardens...this is a mere snapshot of a half hour or so's photography on a single day...albeit at the height of spring bloom. Enjoy!

Androsace bulleyana
As we proceed through the picures, I will have labeled those I knew, such as this one. But some I neglected to photograph the label in my frenzy of picture taking: I have passed this by Hamish, and he made a little commentary which I shall cut and paste: it will be in blue with his initials afterwards (H.B.), like this!

Androsace bulleyana

Gingidia montana (H.B.)
There is a wonderful account of this New Zealand and Australian native at this URL.

Aquilegia viridiflora

Tropaeolum tricolor
Of course, it makes perfect sense that this Chilean native would do so well in New Zealand--the climate is so similar: here is what Hamish has to say about this plant: "This is the growth from a single tuber that was a gift from a friend in the alpine garden society in April this year" (H.B.)

7 Saxifraga x urbium

Saxifraga x urbium
Quoth H.B.: "This was grown from a packet of seed labelled Saxafraga X arendsii but I am not sure if that is what it actually is." I am pretty sure it's a London Pride selection myself.
8 Campanula portenschlagiana

Myosotis concinna (H.B.)
Hamish just sent me this image of another NZ Myosotis, M. explanata

Medley of color
H.B.:. Rhodohypoxis, Meconopsis cambrica, Androsace bulleyana and Androsace strigillosa

 Iris x germanica

H.B.: "One of many tall bearded irises we hurriedly moved from our old house and misplaced the name."

Iris tectorum

H.B:.  Common garden onion, grown to eat the bulb but went to seed… so why not enjoy the flower before pulling them out. (PK:Facebook friend Knut Bjørnstad pointed out that this is likely just Allium fistulosum "Welsh Onion"--originating in China and probably closely related to Allium altaicum, with similar hollow leaves and useful culinary attributes. Commonly grown in veggie gardens.)

H.B:Olive in the blue pot and a lemon magnolia to the right.  The cover around them is wheat (tritium astevium) which grew out of the wheat straw we used to mulch the area.  It looked more interesting that a blank area so we left it in and the local birds loved it.
H.B. An undescribed* Celmisia species commonly known and ‘Grassy leaved’
*(When Hamish says "undescribed" it means it is a NEW species: the plantsmen in New Zealand are always finding plants new to science. People forget that historicallly, gardening has been one of the principal drivers of Botany:botanists are there to help us name our plants! P.K.)

H.B.: "Ranunculus verecundus (yellow) and Babiana angustifolia (? I think)"

H.B.: '. Colobanthus affinus (the pincushion),  Montia sp. (to the left) and Myosotis australus (to the rear)"

Myosotis australis v. alba

H.B. :t know what that is, came with something else that I dug out of a friends garden PK: I am thinking it's a North American Triteleia.

H.B.: Kiwi style shade house.  The large Hebe provides protection from the sun as well as cooler and better looking shade structure that a shade tunnel.  Anything I pot on or prick out spends 2-6 weeks here before going back to the tables in brighter sun

H.B.: Philadelphus sp.

H.B.: "A look across one of 10 tables I have made to house our plants.  Everything, regardless of how they grow in nature, is grown with a 10-20mm layer of grit topping on the pots to keep liverwort under control and to slow evaporative drying.  During summer everything is watered from above daily which provides ideal conditions for liverwort growth and this can easily overtake a timid alpine and rapidly desiccate the mix below."

.  H.B.: "Mostly NZ natives, Celmisia, Colobanthus, Helichrysum, Anisotomi, Raoulia etc."

H.B.:"Odd bedfellows, Poa novae-zelandiae and Gentiana tibetica"

H.B.: "Penstemon sp (I have this written down but am at mum and dads at the moment and can’t remember the species name), A brassica who’s name I also forget but I am going to dumb the lot of them because they are covered in luscious seed pods and will become weedy.  The spiky looking one in the back is a nice compact form of Celmisia sessiliflora I collected."

H.B.: "Different species of Iris grown from seed in foreground.  Background is a collection of seed pots with seed from one of the many garden clubs we belong to.  The white thing contains a temperature sensor.  When the temperature exceeds 26oC the sprinklers come on for 1 min ever 20 min to help keep things cool"

Bulbinella hookeri

H.B.: "A double Rhodohypoxis that mum gave Mika a small pot of some time ago.  Mum has lost hers so I will be able to give some back to her.  I love the way this works with gardeners."

H.B.: "Celmisia sessiliflora X Celmisia spectabilis.  Celmisias often hybridise in the wild producing some interesting forms which I like to collect."

Ranunculus enysii

H.B. "Phyteuma comosum.  Grown in my standard potting mix (45% 1-3mm grit, 45% 1-3mm pumice, 10% moss peat) with 4 handfulls of crushed lime to reproduce that dolomite experience.  This plant looked great in full flower but I don’t seem to have a photo to send you."

Osteospermum hybrids H.B.: "Some daises that seem to go everywhere.  The look good, require little water and fill a gap so they will stay until something else is needing the gap the fill."

H.B.: "Celmisia gracilenta, one of the smallest of the Celmisia genus, but with beautiful makings on the leaves."

Ranunculus godleyanus in early November (H.B.: Ranunculus godleyanus is correct.This only grown near in the high Alps near glaciers, and in my garden."
Here's Hamish's picture of the same plant...a month or so later

Hamish posted this as his Facebook avatar, Ranunculus godleyanus in the wild I believe..

H.B.: Leptinella pyrethrifolia

H.B. "Poa pygmaea, A NZ native alpine grass.  I love it how alpines challenge what you expect a plant to look like."

H.B.: Raoulia grandiflora

Craspedia incana

Ranunculas chessemanii

Hamish grew this from seed labeled "Delphinium exaltatum" which is of course the common, tall perennial Larkspur. A pretty wonderful form, I would think. (Looks like a distinct, good species to me...)
Here is Hamish's picture of this delphinium in full bloom last week.
Another of Hamish's pictures, this one of Delphinium requienii: a new species to me.

H.B.: "Something I collected that I haven’t identified yet (Jo told me but I forgot and didn’t write it down) but it grows well and smells good."

H.B.: Anemone obtusiloba Pradesh

H.B. "The plant front and centre is a Chinohebe thomsonii, Parahebe decora hybrid (both species are now officially in the Veronica genus) I collected and am very excited about.  It has the most fascinating foliage and takes easily from cuttings…".

H.B.: Geum uniflora and Saxifraga primuloides ‘Elliots’ variety'

H.V.: " A better specimen of Poa pygmaea without a misspelled label.  zephyranthes candida in the pot to the left.

Androsace strigillosa

Iris reichenbachii

H.B.: Celmisia semicordata (the largest celmisia species) X Celmisia alpina (the smallest celmisia species) collected and distributed by the fine folk of Hokonui alpines

Carmichaelia vexillatac

H.B.: Poa maniatoto, a tiny and adorable native grass

Montia sp.

Leonohebe sp.

Scilla adlamii or Ledebouria cooperi

Leontopodium alpinum v. nivale

H.B. "Dianthus that Mika grew from a packet of supermarket seeds"

H.B.: "Incarvillea ‘Bees Pink’, a self seeded plant dug up from Steve Newall’s garden"

. Celmisia semicordata stricta X Celmisia gracilenta 

Delosperma 'White Nugget'

Iris verna

H.B.  "Arum that was planted in the garden by the previous owner

H.B. "Ranunculus lyallii (big green leaves), a gift from Steve Newall for hosting Ger and Mariet van den Beuken.  As if getting to make friends with fellow plant enthusiasts wasn’t gift enough."

And now a little photogallery lifted from Hamish's Facebook postings (with his permission) of some plants I missed...

Ranunculus lyallii
 Notice that in MY picture just before this one he's growing it in the ground as well: I saw some fabulous clumps in private gardens in Dunedin and elsewhere--so it can be grown to rival the incredible specimens in the Southern Alps.

Ranunculus verticillatus
I believe I'm in a very select fraternity who can claim to have seen both R. verticillatus and the very different R. SEMIverticillatus of the Andes. If you click on the last Latin name you'll have a chance to see what has to be one of the handful of most dazzling plants on the Planet.

Gonocarpus micranthus
 A wonderful little New Zealand native in the Haloragaceae--a family that's new to me!
Campanula choruhensis
 First introduced by Zdenek Zvolkanek from Turkey in the early 1990's--I believe Rocky Mt Rare Plants--a seed company run by my ex-wife and myself back then--were the first to offer seed of this as Campanula "coruhensis" (sic). Wonderful to see it in the Southern Hemisphere.

Helichrysum 'Silver Cushion'
Leucogenes grandiceps

Brachygolttis bellidioides
 Like all true rock gardeners, Hamish ventures where others fear to tread--collecting modest alpine DYC's, like Brachyglottis. And once you have a few, you can begin to be truly amazed by Nature's combinational skills!

Brachyglottis haastii
How wonderfully distinct the foliage is on these two! As a lover of DYC's, I'm jealous!

And now back to my last few pictures: I was dazzled by the giant forget me nots along the Brown's shady SOUTH Side of their house...Hamish was a bit surprised ("Those are left over from the previous owner" after all. They left the Browns with quite a few plants I was dazzled by--huge, very healthy protea bushes in several species for instance)...This Chatham island endemic is pretty commonly grown in New Zealand--and no great shakes there. But it doesn't thrive in too many places in the Northern hemisphere (it needs coolness, humidity and little frost: not for Colorado!)...

Myosotidium hortensis

Myosotidium hortensis

New Zealand: truly we shall "Forget-thee-not"


  1. A gardener that looks like Thor with plants that would draw women in a manner as only could be attained by a horticultural rock star.

    It makes me wonder if there are any poor inner city rock gardeners?

  2. I'm not sure Hamish thinks of himself as Thor, but having been up a mountain with him, I might agree with your assessment, James! Hamish's alpines could easily fit in a city garden: the wonderful thing about rock gardens is that you don't need vast acreage to have a lot! If I hit your garden in high spring with my camera working, I daresay I could produce just as impressive a group of pictures! Perhaps one day I may!

  3. My garden is an unorganized hoard. My two year old loves nothing more than to push around the gravel in the pathways with his toy front loader and dump truck. When you visit, I will show you some of the natural areas where I have worked. My work is feeble when compared to creation.


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