Just when you thought you’d seen all the variations possible on the theme of NZ flaxes (Phormium), along comes this totally different one, with a definite twist to the fans of broad green foliage which have a slender, orange margin. Although ‘Twisted Sister’ grows to a height of just 50 centimetres, the distinctive appearance makes it stand out from the crowd.
The compact habit also makes it suitable for container growing. In a pot it combines strikingly with all sorts of lower growing foliage plants, from curly, green Ligularia ‘Cristata’ to black mondo grass, Ophiopogon ‘Nigrescens’. The upright form also makes it ideal as contrast to succulents such as the cold hardy sempervivens or tender echeverias, of which the new variety ‘Blue Curl’ is outstanding. In the garden this is a plant with many possibilities for growing among both foliage and flowers. Used as a contrast plant to low growing, colourful annuals it makes a real talking point. For something more subtle, combine it with low growing native foliage plants, such as ground cover coprosmas or tussock grasses including grey-green Carex ‘Frosted Curls’ and orange-bronze Carex testacea, which is a close match colour wise for the leaf margins of ‘Twisted Sister’.
Other intriguing native plants to combine with ‘Twisted Sister’ include the dwarf shrub Coprosma ‘Karo Kiri’ with deep green-bronze foliage which in winter turns chocolate-black, and Geranium ‘Pink Spice’, which is low and dense growing, with dark brown foliage and pretty pink flowers.
For a twist on the clipped garden look, use ‘Twisted Sister’ as a contrast to low, neatly trimmed hedges such as buxus or plant a group as a statement next to clipped topiary.