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But at Dunedin Botanic Garden it also sets the backdrop to a lovely flowering combination in the Noisette rose bed, by the winter garden glasshouse.
The climbing rose in the left of the photo is "Alister Stella Gray''. It has lovely scented, yellow flowers in soft clusters, with deeper centres paling to cream.
"Crepuscule'' is the apricot-orange flowering rose beside it. This one is a favourite with visitors. Both these roses have a long flowering season and need a little bit of room to grow to full potential.
In the centre of the photo is Actaea podocarpa (previously known as Cimicifuga americana). Flowering in late summer, it towers above the other perennials with creamy white bottlebrush flowers. If you leave the flowers on, the dying seed-heads look quite attractive going into winter. The foliage is also very attractive early in the spring season and is similar to Astilbe leaves.
Drifting thorough the border is Penstemon "Charles Rudd''. Penstemons are one of the easiest-care perennials and have everything going for them.
Requiring minimal care, they flower over a long period, have a wide colour range and are free of pests and diseases. They have a certain charm about them and can be used to great effect by planting en masse to complement other perennials or, particularly effectively, with roses.
To frame the picture, the edging plant Nepeta racemosa "Superba'', another easy-care perennial, provides beautiful blue flowers over a very long flowering season.
Garden Life is produced by Dunedin Botanic Garden. For further information contact Linda Hellyer.