Plants Suitable for Cultivation.
I regret that I have not yet been able to explore the two highest points in the county—viz., Raetea and Maungataniwha. I have seen something of the spurs leading from them, and I hardly think that the height of Raetea (2,436 ft.) justifies our expecting any very marked change in the plant covering; but, still, it would be of some interest to be sure on this point.
There are certain plants in the district which from their beauty of foliage or flower, or for the sweetness of their perfume, are worthy of a place in our gardens. Several of the species of Pittosporum are already well known in cultivation. P. virgatum would be a very interesting plant owing to the
remarkable changes through which the leaves pass from the young to the mature state.
Hibiscus trionum and H. diversifolius are both well worthy a place in the flower-garden, more especially so that they are becoming rarer each year, cattle destroying them to such an extent that where at one time they were plentiful now they are unknown.
Entelea arborescens, with its large leaves and handsome flowers, is a fine addition to the shrubbery.
On the clay hills in many parts the large corymbose panicles of bright yellow or cream-coloured flowers of Pomaderris elliptica lend colour to the landscape in September. The flower-buds of this plant form in December and take till September before they open. The fruit is ripe about November.
For the wild garden, any almost of the different species of Metrosideros (rata-vines) would be suitable, particularly M. albiflora, with its large green leaves and wide-spreading panicles of white flowers; or M. diffusa, with bright-crimson flowers; or M. florida, with its orange-red (sometimes yellow) flowers.
Place certainly should be given to the various forms of Alseuosmia, the true honeysuckle of New Zealand. In my opinion, the scent of this flower is more delicious than that of any other indigenous plant. Nor is scent the only recommendation, for the shining leaves and the flowers themselves are attractive to the eye. There are four species: A. macrophylla, with leaves 3–7 in. long, and crimson (sometimes white) flowers 1–2 in. long; A. quercifolia, similar, but smaller; A. Banksii and A. linariifolia, smaller and smaller still. There are certain forms of Alseuosmia which a mere beginner can place at a glance as typical, but there are so many forms intermediate between the various species that hardly two botanists in a dozen will agree as to which species predominates in the particular specimen. Another remarkable feature of this plant is the curious imitative faculty it possesses in its leaves. I have specimens whose leaves in shape, though not in size, have a striking resemblance to those of a great many other plants, among which may be mentioned the oak, hawthorn, Myrtus bullata (the “bubbled” leaves being exactly imitated), Hedycarya, Pittosporum pimeleoides (type, and var. reflexum), tawa, taraire, Coposma of various species, &c.
Colensoa physaloides, with its large light-green leaves and racemes of large pale-blue or purple-blue flowers, is suitable for shaded rockeries. It grows readily from seed in damp sheltered situations.
Ipomoea plamata, with its graceful twining stems and white or purple convolvulus-like flowers, is, I think already included in the lists of flowerseeds.
Veronica macrocarpa and V. diosmaefolia form handsome shrubs.
Either of the species of Muehlenbeckia would be useful in covering an unsightly corner, owing to rapidity of growth and abundance of foliage.
One of our handsome conifers, especially in the young state, is the kawaka (Libocedrus Doniana). It will do well in the open, if not exposed too much to the wind.