Sunday, 17 January 2016

Agapanthus - Beauty or Beast?

  It is agapanthus time and my home city of Auckland is awash with waves of these pretty blue and white flowers dancing gently in the breeze.  Native to South Africa, agapanthus seems to have found its dream location in Auckland and has spread so fast and naturalised so easily  that whole streets are now lined with these invasive plants.

  Their ability to cover scruffy banks, edge long driveways and resist salt spray originally made them a popular choice for low maintenance gardens but now the genie is out of the bottle and there is no stopping them.
All these photos were taken on the riverside walk behind my home.
When my garden was first landscaped the designer put in a few agapanthus plants.  I was delighted because they have fresh green foliage which looks good all year round and then those lovely cool flowers which bloom in the heat of summer.  However, it didn't take me long to realise what a nuisance these plants can be.  They produce prolific seeds which seem to be able to germinate in the smallest of cracks and, if left, will spread through the garden choking everything in sight.  I promptly took to digging them out, (they are almost impossible to poison), hard, sweaty work due to their dense root mats.  Even now I find the odd plant popping up here and there and I quickly deal to it. Also, snails love hiding in their thick foliage, a pain for the home vegetable grower. Agapanthus have become so invasive that the New Zealand Department of Conservation, concerned that they are now choking native plants, has classed them an environmental weed.

  Interestingly my daughter-in-law, living in London, bought some agapanthus flowers at a florist for an eye watering price and is keen to establish a plant in her garden.  It seems that what is a weed in one country is a rare and exotic beauty somewhere else.

Another good thing is that bees love them

  Despite their nuisance factor they do make a magnificent sight when in bloom, hide a multiple of sins and I enjoy seeing them each summer. Just one request, agapanthus, please stay out of my garden and our pristine bush and please leave room for our native plants too!

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