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Camellias & Other Garden "Darlings"
An interview with Tim Durrant, editor |, June 2011



Rach from HEDGE Garden Design & Nursery reveals her favourite plants, trees and flowers.

White Camellias & other garden darlings

What currently is your favourite plant and why?


Camellias – they are evergreen and elegant; they have a wide range of beautiful & blousey flowers which are sometimes fragrant; they are relatively trouble free; and they make a brilliant hedge.


What is the best use or best situation for this plant?


Camellias provide great backbone structure in a garden. They prefer acidic soils, and do well in full sun or part shade. I use them for hedges, large and small; pretty standards in pots outside French doors; pleached hedging along paths and allees; and as large columns for height or punctuation in the garden.


What have you combined with this plant?


Everything! You can use them in layered hedge combinations, and they work especially well if your hedges have contrasting textures. They also work well with flowering perennials, particularly providing “off season” interest in winter. And they look fabulous in contemporary gardens with structured native plantings like Karaka and Corokia hedging, and as a backdrop to architectural plants like Nikau Palms.


What is the most versatile and common plant you use?


There are lots of landscaping “darlings”, and I tend to use different trusted plants for different situations eg Dietes grandiflora in dry exposed sites, Buxus hedging in traditional gardens, Corokia hedging in contemporary and native gardens, Agapanthus on hard to reach clay banks, Renga Renga Lilies under trees, Ivy over sheer rotten rock walls ...


What currently is your favourite tree and why?


I really love New Zealand’s iconic Pohutakawa Trees, although I would never advise a customer to plant one in a city garden! We also have lots of native trees and bush in Wellington, which bring in the bird life.


But I tend to yearn for a bit more interest provided by exotic deciduous trees, to feel the change in seasons, and to enjoy their silhouette branch structure, and to let in more light in winter. For suburban gardens, I especially love Liquidambars, Flowering Cherries, Cercis canadensis “Forest Pansy”, Pin Oaks, and the white barked Himalayan Birches Betula jacquemontii.


Do you use or grow rare species?


As well as being a garden designer, we grow topiaries, fruiting & flowering standards, balls, and cones, Chinese Star Jasmine & Camellias espaliers, and Ivy trained into shapes over wire frames; Buxus & Corokia topiary; edible topiary like Lemon, Feijoa & Olive standards; and other native topiary like Pohutukawa Tree standards.

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