My love affair with Corokias started nearly fifteen years ago. It was not a sudden flash in the pan which then promptly burned itself out, but a gradual discovery which has now culminated in an overwhelming passion.
A friend of mine who lives by the seaside in Suffolk had been growing a “Corokia x virgata Yellow wonder” with great success and was pleased with its tolerance to wind and sea salt. So I acquired one and planted it in my front garden and over the years pruned it to give it a parasol shape.
After an inspiring trip to Cornwall and the “Lost Gardens of Heligan” amongst others, I discovered Burncoose Nurseries and bought a couple more varieties namely” Corokia cotoneaster” and” Corokia x virgata Frosted chocolate”.
At first I thought that Corokias comprised only a few varieties, it’s only in recent years that I found out that the genus consisted of three species of evergreen shrubs, namely “Corokia macrocarpa”,” Corokia buddlejoides” and “Corokia cotoneaster”. The many varieties of “Virgata” are a cross between” C.cotoneaster” and “Corokia buddlejoides”.
My passion for Australasian plants started many years ago. I was always drawn to them I suppose because of my Mediterranean background. A trip to Australia in 1995 lead to the discovery of Eucalyptus trees, in their amazing variety. I was bowled over by the variety, the beauty and the sheer exuberance of all the Australian plants I encountered.
So when I moved to Muswell Hill at the end of 1999 I resolved to have a go at growing some of them here. I found that plants from New Zealand also adapted very well to our climate as theirs is closer to ours than the Australian one. It also helps that there is a mind boggling variety of these plants that can be found in the UK. And as for their decorative value, you just have to look at a Callistemon or at a Sophora microphylla in full flower, to name but two, to be convinced.
The fact that a great number of the shrubs and trees are evergreen means one has the great benefit of year round interest . Also many of them give an architectural or exotic dimension to our gardens, and add that magic of far away places (Pseudopanax.)
One of my great discoveries about ten years ago was a very unusual conifer from New Zealand: “Dacrydium cupressinum”. However at the time I managed to lose the label soon after havin
g planted it and promptly forgot its name. It’s taken me all this time to rediscover it. What I find astonishing is the filigree like delicacy of its needles which is a characteristic of quite a few Australasian shrubs or trees which have very thin and pointed leaves or small delicate ones (Grevillea Canberra Gem, Olearia odorata, Olearia virescens, Melicytus angustifolius to name but a few.)