Botanic Garden's herbaceous evergreens beautify winter

Farfugium japonicum "Crispatum". Photo: Linda Robertson
Farfugium japonicum "Crispatum". Photo: Linda Robertson
With a wee cold snap, winter has struck our Edinburgh of the south! Work in Dunedin Botanic Garden revolves around the weather and seasons, so in the camellia collection most deciduous herbaceous material has been cut back. Now, the beautiful herbaceous evergreens of winter stand alone for scrutiny. They enhance any winter garden with their colours and shapes, texture and structure.

Large drifts

Using larger drifts of the same or similar plants in your plant collection helps to unite the collection and give it a character.

Hellebores are grown throughout the camellia collection, and flower prolifically all winter. Helleborus foetidus is a tidy plant about 30cm to 40cm high with dark green, finely divided foliage topped over winter with trusses of brilliant lime-green flowers. Helleborus argutifolius is a slightly larger and wilder version with bold green, spiny-edged leaves on longer stems, also providing masses of bright lime-green winter flowers. Helleborus orientalis, the winter rose, is most wonderfully variable in the wild, with flowers in the shape of hanging cups, coloured from purest white, through shades of light green or pink to maroon.

Smaller discoveries

A more considered search among the camellias reveals some more unusual plants. The Farfugium japonicum "Crispatum" (syn. Ligularia "Cristata"), is a bit of a mouthful but its common name is very descriptive and apt.

The pie crust plant or parsley leaf ligularia has large rounded leaves, very undulating leaf margins and a slightly hairy grey-green hue.

Discover the common and the curious evergreen herbaceous plants among the camellias this winter.

Garden Life is produced by Dunedin Botanic Garden. For further information contact Marianne Groothuis.


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