There are a host of native trees that are suited to coast gardens, some as shelter from salt-laden winds, others because they thrive in the relatively frost-free conditions. From the spectacular Pohutukawa to the exotic paddle-leaves of the Puka, wonderful contrasts of texture, form and colour are possible.
Mertya sinclairii, Puka
The 'Puka' is a native with a very tropical look - it has exceptional large, round and glossy leaves. Yellow flowers are produced throughout the summer and if you have a female tree there will also be clusters of black berries.
Cultivation Requires a reasonable soil and lots of sun, this is not a tree for those in cooler climates as it is frost tender. A neat, round-headed tree to 5m, it can be trimmed.
Propagation Seed and cuttings
Giant, paddle leaves on the Puka
Myoprum laetum, Ngaio
The ngaio is a rounded tree that excels in coastal conditions, even where the going gets tough. The glossy dark green leaves have a waxy coating that provides protection from salt-burn and the drying effects of wind. It grows quickly to about 6.0m (20ft) but is difficult in inland gardens as it is not hardy to heavy frosts. Plant with care as it is very poisonous to stock.
Cultivation Plant in most soils and protect from frost while young.
Propagation Seed, cuttings
Metrosideros excelsa, the Pohutukawa, is one of New Zealand's most spectacular trees. Flowering in early-mid summer it deserves the name 'New Zealand Christmas tree' for surely nothing else matches it for the show of bright red flowers covering the tree. The buds are felted and silver. Naturally occurring in coastal areas it can be grown, and will flower, outside of its natural range.
The foliage is felted and silvery when young, changing to deep green.
Cultivation Will tolerate poor, dry soil once established, and very tolerant of salt laden winds. Susceptible to possum damage so young trees should be protected. Frost tender when young. Has been used as a hedge and can be trimmed.
Propagation Seed and cuttings (cuttings only for selected forms)
Coprosma repens, Taupata
An extrmely tough coastal plant, with thick, glossy green leaves that handle salty winds and dry coastal situations. There are a number of selected forms and a prostrate form.
Cultivation Most soils and full sun to part shade even in exposed conditions. Not fully frost hardy.
Propagation Cuttings, Seed
Olearia albida, Tanguru
Growing quickly to 3.0-4.0m (9-12ft) and providing excellent shelter, the light green leaves have a mavy margin and in summer there are typical white daisy flowers. Fast and suited for shelter and clipping into hedges.
Cultivation Most well-drained soils, prefers full sun.
Propagation Cuttings, Seed