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Careful Selection of Perennials Complements Collection

This article was first published on 20 Jan 2012.

Perennial selection

Perennial selection

Over the summer the main drive of Dunedin Botanic Garden’s camellia collection is in deep shade under the leafy canopy of European beech, Fagus sylvatica

Light Colours for Dark Shade

Underneath this dark umbrella, the collection of perennials has been especially chosen because they are light and bright. The palest and brightest of greens, lemons and yellows, whites, creams and pinks and mauves bring lightness and life to this whole area.

Sometimes the dim light means the darkest blues, reds and purples can go un-noticed.

Reflecting the light at present are the white berries of Actaea alba, the nodding mauve flowers of the Anemonopsis macrophylla, and the pink and white floral spires of Francoa

Practicalities Important Too

These perennials have all the special qualities I want for under the giant beeches. Being able to cope well under the dark summer shade is most important as well as dealing with Dunedin’s very dry climate. The plants are also considered for their softening effect against the bold foliage of the camellias. Choosing plants which don’t need any staking, due to their lower height or natural strength, saves time and looks tidier.

The camellia collection is an informal collection within the most formal part of the botanic garden – that is the lower garden. Most of the herbaceous material is planted in large drifts which draw your eye into the depth of the borders.

To avoid conflict with nearby collections some signature herbaceous material is repeated throughout the camellias to give the collection its own personality.

Marianne Groothuis is the camellia and theme collection curator at the Dunedin Botanic Garden.