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Gardening with Gael - Apple Blossom Way


Murraya paniculata-331Last year I made a decision to stop writing the gardening articles. The premise of the articles had been the development of the garden on a block of land on the side of the Hakaru Valley. The Block comprises of north facing paddocks with a west and south collar of native bush.

Sheltered and sunny with beautiful free draining clay loam it couldn’t be a better place to create a new garden with plants of every variety I had ever wished for. By last year I felt I had used up my gardening resources and to prove a point I planted an abelia hedge to mark the boundary.

“That’s it” I said to friends and family who rolled their eyes.

“That’s it,” I said to Rob the editor.

“I am coming to have a look,” said Rob, which he did.

“Oh,” he said looking around. “There are a few more articles here I reckon.” I shook my head. Now, a year later, he was right. In fact only a couple of months after my ‘no plants’ announcement I fell badly off the no plants wagon.

I was filling time waiting to pick up my grandchildren from school and where better than Sciadopity’s, a nursery on Maunu Rd, Whangarei. There, lined up on their entrance, ready to catch unsuspecting customers was a lovely little shrub covered in jasmine like blooms with a sweet orange blossom scent. How had I never seen these before? Used as alternative to box hedging, Murraya paniculata more rapidly becomes a taller hedge.

The right hand side of the house faces east. The windows look out over the water tank. Murraya paniculata would be the perfect plant to line the top of the rock wall between the house and tank, obscuring the tank from view, filling the house with scent in the spring and summer and only requiring clipping a couple of times a year to promote bushy growth. Perfect.

The ‘no plant zone’ was abandoned and the requisite number of plants were bundled into the car and a new stage of the garden was open to planning. Even the warning voice in my head saying it’s too late to plant in November, you know you will have to bucket water ALL summer, it’s a steep bank it needs terracing was ignored.

The plan was in place. First I would terrace either side of the path Box had already concreted in anticipation of an easterly garden. The Murraya would form the backdrop of the garden and on the terraces I would plant apple trees. On the terraces in-between I would plant apple blossom carpet roses. The path would be called Apple Blossom Way and have a colour scheme of cream, white and a flush of pink.

Where to source the apple blossom-looking roses? The Village Market of course, and there was Ces Adams and his van with buckets of freshly picked roses and a beautiful single, white rose blushed with a hint of pink, the exact rose I needed for my path. Not only the rose but also a good variety of apples.

“You are a bit late for this planting aren’t you?” said Ces. Fortunately for me we had regular rain all summer. Now eight months later the Murraya have tripled in size, their new lanceolate leaves a bright fresh green. There were apples on the apple trees and the roses have outgrown the possums. Maybe November isn’t too late after all.

EASY CARE: Murraya paniculata grows rapidly to a taller hedge and is easy to maintain.

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