Olearia Macrodonta or New Zealand Holly is a vigorous evergreen shrub which is a valuable plant for UK gardeners both for its year-round foliage and its fragrant summer flowers. It has been awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit for its many desirable qualities and is often used for hedging.
As its common name suggests, Olearia Macrodonta was originally found in New Zealand. The 9 cm long serrated leaves, looking similar to holly but soft to the touch, are grey-green on the top and silvery underneath. In early summer, the shrubs are covered with masses of small, daisy-like flowers with a strong fragrance. Bees and butterflies will be drawn to it. The tan bark which peels back adds extra visual interest.
Hardy in most parts of the UK, New Zealand Holly will grow to a mature height and spread of 2.5- 4 metres in 10 to 20 years. Trim off flower heads when the bloom period is finished. New growth can be trimmed back to half its length every year to encourage vigorous new growth. If needed, hard prune a hedge in April to neaten it up. If planting a hedge, space plants 2 metres apart.
Plant Olearia Macrodonta in any well-drained soil, in a sheltered or exposed position in full sun. Deer resistant and pollution and salt tolerant, New Zealand Holly is well-suited for planting in a variety of different environments in the UK. It is generally pest and disease free.
New Zealand Holly is probably mostly used as a hedging plant in coastal locations as far north as the Hebrides, as it is well-known to be able to take the windy conditions and salt spray that prevail in those locations. An Olearia Macrodonta hedge is an excellent wind break to shelter more susceptible plants. However, it can also be used as specimen planting in a country or city garden, where its summer flowers and year-round green foliage will make it a worthwhile planting, whether at the back of a mixed border, in an awkward corner, or set against a wall. One or two Olearia Macrodonta will provide variety in a mixed hedge in a country setting, and a slope or bank could be planted with a clump of New Zealand Holly to act as ground or to screen your property.
Olearia Macrodonta, with its attractive evergreen leaves and scented summer blooms, can bring its low-maintenance charm to gardens in most parts of the UK!
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