LOOKING around the gardens in the local area this week, I noticed how many plants in the gardens hail from the other side of the world, in particular New Zealand and Australia.

Gardeners buy plants such as Hebes, Cordylines and Verbascums, not knowing where they come from. Knowing their origin helps to place them in the right place our gardens.

Most of these plants will require a sunny position, with good drainage.

Tree ferns, of course, will need shade and moisture, but protect them in winter by wrapping them in chicken wire and stuffing it with straw to keep frost free.

When watering these ferns, water the crown and the trunk because this is where the majority of roots are.

Until a few years ago, when we had two very bad winters, a lot of gardens had tall Cordylines (Torbay Palm or Cabbage Tree) and large Phormiums (New Zealand Flax).

The harsh winters killed most of these magnificent plants because they were not used to such long, cold, wet weather. But don’t be put off growing them.

If you grow smaller varieties such as, Phormium “Joker” or “Platt’s Black”, you can protect them from the winter weather, by wrapping them in horticultural fleece. Most people will have a Hebe in their garden. They make a great specimen plant or hedge and the flowers are white, pink, lilac or purple.

You can find a variety that suits you. Hebe “Rosie” for instance only grows to about 60cm (2ft) and has pink flowers.

Hebe “Mrs Winder” can grow to more than 120cm (5ft) and has purple flowers.

This is a great plant for the sunny parts of the garden and also for bees.

I have quite a few grasses in my garden and a few of them come from New Zealand.

Carex “Frosted Curls” is a mound forming grass, which I mixed with some white cosmos. It also looks good in a pot, with its curly ends trailing down.

My neighbour’s cats also like playing with it! Cortaderia ‘Richardii’ is a pampas-looking grass, but it doesn’t take up as much space and its plumes are more graceful and arching, rather than big and feathery.

How about trying something new? Most gardeners know the green and red Cordylines and their various other colours, but what about trying Cordyline “Karo Kiri”?

I first saw this plant in its native home of New Zealand while I was working on a nursery near Christchurch, in the South Island. My old boss found it in a batch of seedlings of the normal green Cordyline.

It only grows to about 30cm (1ft) wide, but will still grow as high as the normal species. It is perfect for a small area.

Libertia “Taupo Blaze” and “Sunset” are evergreen perennial plants.

They look a little like Phormium but grow no more than 30cm (1ft). The Australian Mint Bush is a hardy little plant. It is an evergreen shrub and has small white flowers. I first saw one in this area in a sheltered garden in Ramsbottom and it survived the harsh winters without any damage.

So, the next time you look around your garden, have a look to see if your plants have come from Down Under!