Beautiful survivors

April 3, 2016

Whilst doing a site visit for a large project near Nelson, we noted the enduring presence of various plants (trees, shrubs and bulbs), to gain an idea of what was worth keeping and what should be removed. One of the treasures that grew amidst rough grass was a particularly beautiful, pure white Nerine that is usually referred to as Nerine flexuosa ‘Alba’ (but is now considered to be part of the variable N. undulata).

That white Nerine (the flowers of which are pictured above) has now been incorporated in various parts of that property, both near the new house and in the original patches where it persisted without any assistance. Like daffodils, Amaryllis, and freesias, nerines are a fine example of a particularly valuable category of garden plant – attractive flowers that thrive without any care.

In northern parts of the country, we are far more likely to encounter the bright red blooms of Nerine sarniensis (one commonly-planted form of which is normally sold as N. fothergilli var. major, pictured below). This acommodating and variable species has been hybridised extensively to create a plethora of different-coloured varieties, such as the salmon pink and whitish-pink forms pictured above and below.

Other species that are grown within New Zealand, yet rarely seen in gardens (especially contemporary gardens) include a dwarf evergreen species with grassy foliage and bright pink flowers, called N. filifolia, another compact species with atypical, white flowers (N. pudica), and a pink-flowered form of N. humilis with particularly elegant heads of few flowers. As one might expect, the smaller species do not thrive as readily in a state of neglect, as they are more easily overshaded.