There are many arid or semi arid regions of the world where beautiful gardens thrive with little if any artificial watering. By planting these hardy, drought resistant species, garden maintenance can be reduced and the need for artificial watering virtually eliminated.
Adenandra, the China Flower, is a South African shrub 1m x 1m with tight, twiggy branches resembling a small tumbleweed. They thrive on windswept coastal margins, rocky cliffs and mountainsides. For much of the year they are covered in manuka-like flowers in white or rose. Feed only organically and then very lightly. Extremely hardy to everything except severe cold and overwatering!
Agapanthus, the Love Flower, is another South African species providing spectacular summer flower displays in full or part sun with virtually no care or water. The succulent Aloes and Agaves usually provide vivid displays of poker or candelabra flowers on indestructible, highly architecturally attractive plants with many interesting leaf forms. Extremely hardy to drought and coastal extremes, they look effective in containers or Mediterranean plantings.
Anigozanthus, the Kangaroo Paw, is a familiar bulbous rooted, herbaceous perennial from Western Australia. The stiff, narrow, flax-like leaves make decorative, evergreen clumps in the rock garden or border. Woolly, tubular flowers somewhat resemble the foot of a kangaroo giving rise to it's common name. The long stemmed flowers come in many shades of red and orange through yellow, cream and buff to nearly white and a various hues of green.
They are spring and summer flowering, long lasting and can be dried quite effectively. Kangaroo Paws enjoy hot, dry conditions, poorer soils, even sands and gravels with perfect drainage. Plant in full sun and avoid artificial feeding. Because of our wetter climate it is very important that they are planted with excellent ventilation to evaporate excessive moisture from around their crowns otherwise fungal infections will result.
Araucaria includes the spectacular A. araucana, the Monkey Puzzle Tree from Chile and A. heterophylla (syn. A. excelsa) the Norfolk Island Pine. Both are dramatic, tall, symmetrical trees with a pyramidal habit of growth. While Monkey Puzzle is a more delicate species they both withstand great extremes, including coastal conditions, salt spray, and summer drought.
Norfolk Island Pines make excellent container plants and are often used as Christmas trees in (sub)tropical climates. The Monkey Puzzle gets it's name from the sharp, thick scales that spiral up the branches. Legend says that if a monkey climbs these branches it is impossible for them to descend. Quick growing, these trees demanding plenty of space.
Arthropodium, the Reinga Lily or NZ Rock Lily, has become increasingly popular over the years because of it's versatility and ability to look graceful, tidy, and floriferous even under extreme coastal conditions and in dry shade. The delicate white flowers are massed on arching, branching stems above broad, glossy, evergreen foliage. Excellent for floral art, mass plantings and in containers.
Aucuba, the Japanese Laurel wins the award for most durable, brilliantly adaptable foliage plant. They make superior background and accent plants in the shady or semi shaded border. Avoid scalding sun but they can withstand considerable drought and coastal extremes and are great in containers inside and outdoors. They have virtually no pests or diseases.
Foliage varies by species from deep, glossy green to vivid gold and speckled yellows. If mass planted with one male shrub to several females a fine crop of scarlet, holly-like berries will be produced over the winter months. Prune lightly to maintain shape. Foliage excellent for floral art. Grows in most soils but best in peat and sand.