Several years ago, when I had the opportunity to make a garden in the dry, cold interior of the South Island, I seized the chance to plant foxtail lilies (Eremurus spp. or varieties). These natives of Asia and eastern Europe grow well in dry areas of the south, including Central Otago, where they are grown and sold by Bannockburn Floriculture.

Unfortunately, the vibrant flowers of Eremurus (orange and yellow varieties of which are pictured above, and below left) are a sight that one is highly unlikely to encounter in Auckland, as our warm, humid climate is poorly suited to their requirements. However, we are able to grow a Mediterranean bulb, called Urginea maritima, which sends up impressive white spires (up to 1.3m tall) in late summer and autumn (as shown in the other images below).

The conspicuous bulbs of Urginea maritima achieve huge dimensions over many years, and are topped by substantial rosettes of wavy, bright green leaves. We have planted this native of impoverished coastal sites in a coastal garden on the shores of the Waitemata Harbour (in a similar aspect to its natural growing station), as well as a number of plants in the centre of the city, at City Works Depot.