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The Cultivation of New Zealand Plants

Chapter VIII. — Climbing Plants Suitable for Gardens

Chapter VIII.
Climbing Plants Suitable for Gardens.

New Zealand forests are celebrated for their wealth of woody climbing-plants (lianas), but rather on account of their abundance than for the number of species (only 33). The climbing-ratas are a peculiarity, the myrtle family to which they belong having no climbers elsewhere. Included here are one or two plants which, though not really of the climbing habit, do best when trained to a support; also a few non-woody climbers are included.

According to their capabilities the plants of this chapter may be used for decorating trees, or tall shrubs, for pergolas, trellises, and so on. Some are best as trailing plants, and others, in the adult-form, may be grown as shrubs. As a rule, most, when young, like well-drained soil and shade.

Class 1.—Scramblers.

Angelica rosaefolia (hh.) is semi-woody; lvs. pinnate, several inches long; fls. conspicuous, white, Sp. Hab., north of Auckland to about lat. 40°., to 2,000 ft. Cult., dry bank or amongst small shrubs. Prop., young plants, cuttings, seed.

Carmichaelia gracilis (vh.) forms entangled masses of slender green stems on fairly tall shrubs; page 97fls. small, numerous, white and purple. Hab., Canterbury and Otago, frequently in wet ground, to about 2,000 ft. Cult., as climber over shrubs, or trellis, or allowed to form dense mass of shoots on the ground. Prop., rooted pieces, seed.

Clianthus puniceus (kaka-bill, red kowhai, hh.) has green pinnate lvs., 3 to 6 in. long, and brilliant bright-scarlet fls., up to 1 in. long. Prop., cuttings, seed; the beautiful var. alba has white fls., it comes "true" from seed. Amongst wild plants various forms differing in size of flower and colour of fls. can be seen. The Australian C. Dampieri is sometimes grafted on to C. puniceus.

Coprosma Baueri, var. variegata (hh.) is most excellent for the wall of a house, etc.; lvs., extremely glossy-green, as in the type, but broadly margined with white, which is creamy-yellow when young. Prop., cuttings; there is another variegated, but less pleasing variety, useful, however, for scrambling over rough banks.

Fuchsia Colensoi (vh.) is like F. excorticata, but climbs with its extremely slender flexible branches. Hab., lowland forest, or gullies amongst shrubs. Cult., as climber over shrubs or straggling on ground. Prop., rooted pieces, cuttings, seed. There are many intermediate hybrids between this and F. excorticata, some making good garden shrubs. F. procumbens (hh.) is a coastal low climber, or scrambles on the ground, south to lat. 37°. Cult., alpine-garden, or pot-plant; its special beauty is the large bright-red berries.

Helichrysum dimorphum (vh.) is curious rather than pretty, with adult silvery shoots above resembling those of H. microphyllum (see Chapter V.), page 98and juvenile lvs. below, small, spreading. Hab., climbing over shrubs in montane belt of Upper Waimakariri, Canterbury. Cult., as climber over shrubs. Prop., cuttings, seed, rooted pieces.

Lycopodium volubile (waewaekoukou, vh.) is a beautiful creeping or climbing plant with wiry, scrambling, or sometimes winding stems which root when creeping. Hab., outskirts of forest, low scrub, clay banks, etc. Cult., for covering bare banks, climbing over shrubs, medium soil, sun or shade according to locality. Prop., by layering rooted stems into the pots, etc., where it is to become established. L. scariosum is similar but does not climb. L. fastigiatum (vh.) is rather like a tiny pine-tree; it spreads far by slender underground-stems. Cult., alpine-garden. Prop., as for L. volubile.

Rubus australis var. glaber (tataramoa, bush-lawyer, vh.) is a lofty climber ascending by aid of curved prickles on stems, midribs and leaf-stalks; lvs. 3 to 5-foliate; leaflets, broad, stiff; fls. dioec., male white, showy, very sweet-scented, in immense panicles. Hab., lowland and montane forest but forms dense tangled masses in the open. Cult., as climber for trees, etc., but fls. last a short time only; suitable for dry banks, waste ground, mixed hedges. Prop., young plants, rooted pieces, cuttings, seed. R. cissoides var. pauperatus (vh.) is an elegant lofty climber with lvs. reduced to midribs and leaf-stalks, which are covered with yellow prickles contrasting with the green smooth stems; in the open, it forms a dense entangled bush and never flowers, but in the shade, glossy leaf-blades are produced and it blooms more or less freely. Cult., as climber over trees, etc. Prop., rooted pieces, seed. (Frequently wrongly named R. australis in English gardens).

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Stipa arundinacea (h.) is a rather handsome, bamboo-like grass which scrambles over small shrubs to a height of 6 ft. or more. Hab., lowland forest, East Cape to Otago. Cult., border, good soil. Prop., rooted pieces, seed.

Class 2.—Winding climbers.

Calystegia tuguriorum (vh.) forms masses of slender stems, bedecked with abundant white fls., climbing over shrubs and small trees in lowland forests. Prop., rooted pieces, seed. (The allied C. sepium is a terrible weed).

Muehlenbeckia australis (vh.) climbs rapidly, eventually gaining tops of tall trees, forming masses of green leafy stems; lvs. ovate to broadly oblong, apiculate, 2 to 3 in. long; fts., small, consisting of a black nut seated on the translucent, swollen succulent flower-leaf. Hab., lowland forest. Cult., good soil in more or less shade with tree, fence, or something to climb and conceal. Prop., young plants, seed, M. complexa (pohuehue, vh.) is similar, but much more slender and lvs. smaller. Hab., Cult., etc., as for M. australis. There are various forms and almost certainly hybrids with M. australis. M. axillaris (vh.), still smaller, is a creeping, rooting, matforming plant. Hab., many situations in open, to 4,500 ft. Cult., alpine-garden in dry part. Prop., rooted pieces, seed.

Parsonsia heterophylla (kaiwhiria, vh.) is a slender, fairly lofty climber; lvs. finally more or less ovate, 2 to 3 in. long, dark-green; but juvenile lvs. round to long and narrow with many transitions; fls., white, in large clusters, late S., pretty (see fig 13); fts., long, cylindric, 3 to 6 in., narrow. Hab., lowland forest. Cult., good soil, shade. Prop., young plants page 100(but not always easy to establish), seed (may be sown where wanted to establish plant). P. capsularis (aka-kiore, vh.) has smaller, cream-coloured fls., and the adult lvs. are narrower. Hab., etc., similar; the var. rosea has pretty rose-coloured fls.

Rhipogonum scandens (supple-jack, vh.) is a lofty climber with eventually black naked stems; fts., handsome, bright red. Hab., lowland forest. Cult., not easy, good soil, shade, slow growth. Prop., young plants, seed.

Senecio sciadophilus (h.), both creeps and roots, and climbs, is about 20 ft. high, slender; lvs., 1 to 2 in. long, orbicular, toothed; fls., yellow, S., A. Hab., lowland forest, east of S. Island. Cult., good soil in shade, looks pretty climbing verandah, fairly fast. Prop., young rooted pieces of creeping part, cuttings, seed.

Class 3.—Tendril climbers.

Clematis indivisa (puawhanganga, vh.) is suitable for climbing small trees, forming eventually close masses of leafy stems; lvs. 3-foliate, with ovate-oblong, entire leaflets, 1 to 4 in. long; fls. (male) up to 4 in. diam., white, early Sp. Hab., lowland and montane forest. Cult., good, deep soil in partial shade. Prop., young plants, seed. Mr. S. Page (Christchurch) has shown that great differences in size of fls. occur in collected plants. Also there is almost certainly more than one variety. C. hexasepala (h.) has toothed or lobed lvs. of a brighter green than the last, and smaller fls. Hab., manuka shrubland, and forest outskirts. Cult., etc., as for C. indivisa. C. Colensoi (h.) has 3-foliate lvs. and leaflets crenate, toothed, or 3-lobed; fls. up to 1 in. diam., yellow. Hab., manuka shrubland, lowlands. Cult., etc., as for the page 101preceding; the var. rutaefolia has lvs. deeply-cut, and the plant is smaller. C. australis (vh.), a S. Island montane and subalpine species, is similar; fls. yellow. Hab., climbs over shrubs of various scrubs, to 3,500 ft., or may trail over stony ground. Cult., as for the others. C. afoliata (vh.) forms round bushes of dense entangled, yellowish, rush-like slender stems; fls. yellow, in great profusion, Sp. Hab., river terrace, rocks, various parts of the eastern S. Island, to 2,000ft. at most. Cult., border, where dry, in sun. Prop., rooted pieces, seed. For those desirous of a complete collection of the species there is also C. foetida, fls. yellowish, sweet-scented; C. parvifolia, fls. yellowish; and C. marata, fls. greenish or purplish-yellow, sweet-scented.

Tetrapathaea (Passiflora) tetrandra (h.) is effective on account of its beautiful, glossy dark-green lvs., 1 to 4 inches long, making large, glistening masses, and its roundish orange fruits 1½ inches diameter. Hab., lowland forest, south to Banks Peninsula, on east of S. Island. Cult., excellent for climbing over trees, etc. Prop., young plants, cuttings, seed.

Class 4.—Root climbers.

The climbing species of Metrosideros (rata) are six in number, only M. hypericifolia is hardy everywhere. Several when in flower are extremely beautiful, but M. diffusa, with exquisite rosy-crimson fls., is easily the best. Their habit is that of the ivy, and they may be used for similar purposes. M. florida, M. scandens, M. albiflora, and M. diffusa, in their adult flowering stage are admirable when creeping, more or less entangled over the ground; the first two also become excellent dense shrubs, and M. scandens is effective in its climbing stage, clinging to rocks or to banks. page 102Prop., rooted pieces of either the climbing or adult forms.

M. albiflora (hh.) is very handsome with its much-branched panicles of white fls., S. Hab., lowland forest, south to lat. 38°. M. Colensoi (hh.), slender, has small, ovate, sharp-pointed lvs.; fls. white, or flushed pink, S. Cult., to scramble over rocks, banks, etc. M. diffusa (hh.) has thick, more or less oblong lvs. about 1 in. long. Hab., south to about lat. 39° on west of N. Island. M. florida (aka, hh.) has ellipticoblong lvs., 1 to 3 in. long, and beautiful orange-scarlet fls., A. to W. Hab., lowland forest from north of Auckland, south to Westland, but not on east of S. Island; a var. aurita, with yellow fls., has been described. M. hypericifolia (vh.) has small oblong-lanceolate to ovate-oblong, sharp-pointed lvs., ¼ to 1 in. long; fls., small, pinkish-white. Hab., lowland forest to 2,000 ft. M. scandens (hh.) has small, round, thick, shining lvs. and white fls., S., A. Hab., lowland forest, coastal cliffs, south to Westland, but on east of S. Island not past Kaikoura.