Coprosma are an interesting and very diverse group of shrubs. There are hundreds of varieties with a broad range of differences. Coprosma come in very low growing, ground hugging forms right up to large shrubs. Coprosma can also be loosely divided into two groups - the larger leafed variety and the twiggy small leaved varieties. We will have a look at the twiggy forms, also known as 'Mingi Mingi'. Mingi Mingi is a maori word for 'twisted'.
Despite being so varied there are a few things Mingi mingi have in common. Generally they are small to medium shrubs, with very small leaves and interesting divaricating form. This gives them the twiggy appearance and this is their interesting feature. Often the branches have interesting colour giving the shrub a nice coloured hue, for example the golden yellow of Coprosma virescens or the red of Coprosma Rubra. The starkness, of this appearance holds a certain drama and charm in the garden and certainly makes them stand out and look different from other more leafy shrubs.
Mingi Mingi are very tough little shrubs, they will withstand horrendoeus winds, coastal conditions, very cold alpine conditions, very wet situations and long droughts. In fact Mingi Mingi is one of the toughest NZ shrubs and will survive almost anything.
Coprosma are very attractive to native birds. In summer and autumn they produces masses of pale (non-poisonous) berries that turn blue as they ripen and are loved by native birds. At other times of year they they are attractive to the smaller birds that love browsing for small insects and mites hosted on the plant. Coprosma are our top recommendation for people wanting to attract native birds back to their garden.
The size and shape of mingi varies dramatically. Some have very flat prostrate growth and grow as a shrubby ground cover. These are fascinating rambling over rocks and walls, and definetely add interest to a low growing garden. Others form low to medium shrubs, and thus require very little care in the smaller garden.
Mingi Mingi respond well to clipping, and therefore can be easily hedged. They make a very interesting and different hedge and provide wonderful colour choices rather than the traditional leafy green hedge. Because of the very fine branches and small leaves coprosma make wonderful tight, good looking hedges that are easy to maintain.