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Plant of the week- Drimys winteri

drimys winteri2 1 Plant of the week  Drimys winteri

Drimys winteri is an amazing small tree or large shrub that delights us at this time of the year with its beautiful large fragrant flowers. It is a native of Chile and Argentina, namely the temperate coastal rainforests, Magellanic and Valdivian. In these areas, it’s normally found living just 1200m above sea level and prefers damp spots near streams in rich fertile soil. It grows up to 20m tall in its native areas but manages up to 10m here in the uk. It does survive pretty well here and can be found growing up as far northern Wales.

drimys winteri Plant of the week  Drimys winteri

The evergreen aromatic leathery leaves themselves have a are a mid-dark green colour and oblong to lance like in shape, reaching about 20cm when long. The jasmine scented flowers are borne from late winter to late spring here in the uk and are well worth growing for the scent alone. The bark is also one the highlights of this small tree and is a lovely rich brown colour.

Drimys winteri or winters bark was discovered between 1577-80 by possibly John Wynter. John Wynter was the captain of the Elizabeth, the only other ship that made it around Cape Horn with Sir Francis Drake sailing the famous Golden Hind. After a bad storm, the two vessels were separated and it is thought Elizabeth had illness aboard. John set a boat a shore to look for medical herbs and they brought back the bark of Drimys winteri. They discovered it contained vitamin C and it made a excellent remedy for the dreaded illness aboard ships at the time, scurvy. For many centuries it was used to fight scurvy, indeed Captain James Cook drank an infusion of it. The bark of Drimys winteri is also thought to aid indigestion, colic and dandruff. It is also ground up and used just like pepper in its native countries.

drimys winteri1 Plant of the week  Drimys winteri

The wood itself has a lovely reddish colour and is sort after in making furniture and making musical instruments. It is sadly no good for fires. It was also used by the tribes in South America as a symbol of peace, the same way olive branches were used in Greece

Drimys winteri prefers a well drained moist soil, ideally one that’s neutral to acidic, that said it will tolerate some chalk and grow ok in deeper alkaline soils. Surprisingly it will tolerate strong winds but it doesn’t like to be exposed to coastal winds containing salt. It is hardy down to -10c. Pruning wise it doesn’t need any pruning other than to shape it and removal any crossing branches. It is thought to be pretty resistant to honey fungus, so may be a good option if it is problematic in your garden.

drimys winteri2 Plant of the week  Drimys winteri

Drimys winteri is pretty easy to propagate, seed being the easiest way, sown fresh in the autumn in a greenhouse and once potted on, give some protection in something like a cold frame for the first year or so. Semi ripe cuttings with a heal work well and are best taken in July or August.

It can be found in many gardens like RHS Wisley, Sir Harold Hillier Gardens and many gardens in Cornwall. Indeed it is quite widely grown. It is also sold in many good nurseries like Burncoose of Southdown.

20180226 202933 Plant of the week  Drimys winteri
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Plant of the week- Magnolia x soulangeana ‘Etienne Soulange-Bodin

magnolia x soulangeana6 Plant of the week  Magnolia x soulangeana ‘Etienne Soulange Bodin

magnolia x soulangeana2 Plant of the week  Magnolia x soulangeana ‘Etienne Soulange BodinSome plants just walk into Plant of the week without any need of explaining why! With Magnolia x soulangeana ‘Etienne Soulange-Bodin it is certainly indeed one of those plants. Where ever you drive at the moment, town, city or countryside, you will see one of these stunning magnolias, flowering away to the hearts content. If there is a tree in the uk that shouts here’s spring more than Magnolia x soulangeana ‘Etienne Soulange-Bodin I would love to know it

Magnolias as a whole, belong to an ancient group of plants, dating back to the times of the dinosaur, well before bees, when beetles where the main pollinators. This form of magnolia doesn’t date back that far, just to the 1820’s. It was an cavalry officer from Napoleons arm, who after seeing the botanical gardens at places like Vienna, Moscow and Stuttgart during the war, the war indeed left him rather unimpressed to the point of him saying ‘ it would of been better if both parties stayed at home and planted cabbages’! Thankfully for us, he didn’t and after the war, he founded the royal institute of Horticulture near Paris ad it was in this garden in 1820, he crossed magnolia denudata with magnolia liliiflora. The resulting seedling, produced one of the finest magnolias and the one we see everywhere today Magnolia x soulangeana or to give it its correct botanical name Magnolia x soulangeana ‘Etienne Soulange-Bodin. It is possible that natural crosses of these to did happen in Japanese temples, where both are grown for religious reasons but this was the first hybrid between the two plants that happened in Europe.

magnolia x soulangeana6 Plant of the week  Magnolia x soulangeana ‘Etienne Soulange BodinOne of the things that makes Magnolia x soulangeana ‘Etienne Soulange-Bodin such a good tree for peoples gardens is the fact it is slow growing, height after 20 years can be up to 3-4m high and wide and its takes up to 50yrs to reach its full 6m height and width. The leaves open just after the plant has finished flowering and are a oval shaped, mid green in colour around 20cm long, they do go a yellow colour in the autumn but it isn’t one of the best for autumn colour. It is the big open white flowers, flushed with purple at the base, this plant is mainly grown for. These flowers can be tolerant of a certain amount of frost.

c94bdeb1 e564 46f3 91f0 3a3097525d50 686 0000003ce598e954 file Plant of the week  Magnolia x soulangeana ‘Etienne Soulange Bodin

It is also very good at growing in a wide range of soils, indeed it will happy grow in all, from clay to sand, from acidic to alkaline and tolerates thin soils over chalk, unlike most magnolias. Ideally, it should be mulched with some great compost and fed with a good fertiliser like vitax Q4 after flowering, covering the plant to just outside the drip zone but it’s not over important. As a plant, it required very little pruning, thining of crossing branches, removal of deadwood is all that is required, although it can be more heavierly pruned back if required, with no adverse effects. When the wood is cut though, you will get a stunning ginger scent coming from the wood. Pest and disease wise, it’s pretty trouble free, scale insects take a like to it, so it’s worth watching out for them, honey fungus will also attack it. Other than that it’s pretty easy.

It can be seen in most streets around the uk and brought from most good Nurseries

20180226 202933 Plant of the week  Magnolia x soulangeana ‘Etienne Soulange Bodin
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Plant of the week- Stachyurus praecox

stachyurus praecox 4 Plant of the week  Stachyurus praecox

stachyurus praecox 3 Plant of the week  Stachyurus praecoxAt this time of year, there’s lots happening in the plant world and it’s so difficult to choose one plant of the week, then one plant just jumps out at you and screams add me add me so you do! Stachyurus praecox is indeed one of those plants. The shear beauty of the flowers will take your breathe away and rightly so!

stachyurus praecox Plant of the week  Stachyurus praecoxStachyurus praecox is indeed a native of Japan and into the Himalayas and was discovered in Japan by the great German explorer and physician Philippine Von Siebold. He discovered and introduced many of our Japanese plants that we grow in our gardens. Stachyurus praecox in its native Japan, can be found growing around the forest edges in the warmer temperate areas of Japan and is indeed know as a pioneer shrub, meaning it is one of the first plants to grow in a newly cleared areas.

stachyurus praecox 6 Plant of the week  Stachyurus praecoxThe name comes from Greek words Stachys meaning an ear of corn and oura meaning a tail, praecox means early for the early flowering. And it does flower early, in a normal year, it flowers from February to April, but this year it has only just started flowering in the past few weeks. The tiny flowers are borne on large racemes measuring up to 5″ long on some plants and in Japan, they are pollinated by bees. The shrub itself can grow up to 3m in height over 5 years or so. The mid green coloured leaves, turn in the autumn to a blaze of oranges and yellows and it is well worth growing for the autumn colour as well.

stachyurus praecox 4 Plant of the week  Stachyurus praecoxStachyurus praecox makes a great garden plant. It prefers a semi shaded or sunny spot in the garden with the soil being on the neutral to acidic side. Stachyurus praecox prefers a well drained soil but will be happy in a sandy loam and again despite what the books and internet says, it will grow away quite happy in a clay soil. As it comes from the warmer areas of Japan, it will tolerate temperatures as low as -15c but ideally to do its best for you, it does need a sheltered spot in the garden or indeed makes an unusual wall shrub.

Stachyurus praecox is also generally pest and disease free and requires a little pruning. To get the best flowers from the shrub, some feel it’s best to remove the older wood, say anything over 4yrs old. This keeps the Plants young and healthy and the flowering wood at its best. Of course you can also leave it alone, just removing the crossing stems and dead wood. It’s also pretty easy to propagate. Stachyurus praecox comes easily from seed, laying the plant and also by semi-ripe cuttings taken in late summer

Stachyurus praecox can be found in most of the bigger botanical gardens like Kew, Wisley and Sir Harold Hillier Gardens and can be brought from good Nurseries like Burncoose of Southdown and the welsh plant chocolate shop Crûg Farm

20180226 202933 Plant of the week  Stachyurus praecox
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Plant of the week- Chionodoxia luciliae

img 4487 Plant of the week  Chionodoxia luciliae

img 4475 Plant of the week  Chionodoxia luciliae

Spring to me would be spring without the large drifts of bulbs that delight us in the larger parks and gardens. Most of the time, the bigger daffodils steal the show, with their yellow colour brightening up a dull spring day or crocus that open in huge drifts once the sun hits then. Quite often over looked and forgotten, bulbs like Chionodoxia can carpet areas and give us such a clear blue in the spring bulb display. This is the reason it’s my plant of the week this week.

img 4484 Plant of the week  Chionodoxia luciliae

Chionodoxia luciliae is one of the bulbs that naturalises areas with ease. Native of western Turkey mainly around the mountain called Boz Dag. It can be found at around 2000ms above sea level, flowering in May and June as the snow slowly melts leading to one of its common names, Glory of the Snow. It is thought by some, as a Scilla and they differ from Scilla from the stamens that are flattened at the base. Some botanists don’t think that’s enough and call it Scilla luciliae. It’s Latin name comes from Greek words chion meaning snow and doxa meaning glory, luciliae was after the wife of the great Swiss Botanist Pierre Edmond Boissier, the lovely Lucile Boissier.

img 4482 Plant of the week  Chionodoxia luciliae

The classification of Chionodoxias are a little confused with many of the species being grown around the world Horticulturally wrongly named, luciliae is more recognisable than most, flowers are bigger in size than C.forbesii, they normally have 2-3 flowers per stem. The flowers are of the truest blue of all the Chionodoxia and have almost a white star in the centre.

Chionodoxia luciliae in the uk, flowers early from February into March, this cold spell has certainly made them flower later this year. It gets to maximum height 15cm tall in full flower, often smaller around 10cm. It flowers for about 3 weeks before finishing and slowly dying down and disappearing for the summer. They grow quite happily in any free draining soil in a sunny or semi shady spot in the garden. Chionodoxia luciliae are planted as a bulb in the autumn about 5cm deep and once established, they can spread by seed quite easily.

They have very few pests and diseases and aren’t eaten by anything

Widely available but bulb companies like Gee tee and Avon bulbs are good sources

img 4487 Plant of the week  Chionodoxia luciliae

20180226 202933 Plant of the week  Chionodoxia luciliae
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Plant of the week- Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’

img 2304 Plant of the week  Corylus avellana Contorta

img 2303 Plant of the week  Corylus avellana Contorta

There’s always a space for a bit of madness in the garden then this plant know more commonly as the contorted hazel certainly brings this trait into the garden in spades. The way the stems twist and turn amongst themselves is unlike any other plant in the garden. These stems, so loved by the florists, who use them both in their natural state and sprayed into a mix of colours, also have a huge use in the garden, even more if highlighted with a evergreen planting behind it, allowing the stems to really show off their twisted features. It is such a main feature in a winter garden

img 2304 Plant of the week  Corylus avellana Contorta

Corylus Avellana is of course a British native know as hazel. It has huge commercial use for thousands of years, being used to make all forms of items from charcoal to hazel fencing know as wattles. It’s main are of use is of course the hazel nut, loved by us for 1000s of years. The botanical name comes from the Greek word korys meaning helmet, from the calyx that covers the top of each nut while Avellana is named after the Italian town Avella, the centre of nut production many years ago.This form ‘Contorta’ commonly called the corkscrew hazel and Harry Lauder’s walking stick after a famous Victorian comedian, was discovered in a hedgerow near the small village of Frocester, Gloucestershire in 1863 by Canon Ellacombe. He was a very well respected gardener, who passed it on to his great friend, Edward Bowles who grew it at his home, Middleton House.

img 2300 1 Plant of the week  Corylus avellana Contorta

Small female flowers

Corylus Avellana ‘Contorta’ is a slow growing shrub, making a height of about 15ft in 20 years or so, it’s contorted stems look beautiful in the garden. Like all hazels, it prefers a nice loamy soil but it will grow in most soils including sandy, clay and chalky soils. It will take a quite a bit of shade being a woodland shrub but it also grows well in full sun. It doesn’t need a lot of care, just some mulch of well rotten compost or green waste and Vitax Q4 to keep the soil fertile. The leaves are like normal hazel leaves and the large male yellow catkins I find, are borne a little later than the straight form. The female flowers are much smaller and almost like a red spider and are found on the main stems. They are pollinated by the wind.

img 2301 Plant of the week  Corylus avellana Contorta

The male catkins

Corylus Avellana ‘Contorta’ is general disease free but it does suffer a few pests like the normal aphids, sawflies, gall wasps and a few butterflies and moths lay their eggs on it like the large emerald, small white wave, barred umber and nut-tree tussock. The nuts are also eaten by a wide range of animals but famously as food for the dormouse. There is also a purple form called ‘Red Majestic’ that is for some reason rarely offered but should be!

Corylus Avellana ‘Contorta’ is propagated by grafting on to straight Corylus Avellana in most Nursery propagation so any long and straight stems need to be removed. It is possible to propagate by hard wood cuttings taken in late November but they are well known for being difficult! It doesn’t need any form of pruning, stems that are growing the wrong way or coming out too far can be pruned back either during the growing season or in the winter. Like all hazels, it can be copiced hard back, down to a stump if required, in late winter. This method is ideal to do every 2-3years if the stems are required for use in flower arranging.

It can be seen in most gardens and is widely available to buy from most good Nurseries

20180226 202933 Plant of the week  Corylus avellana Contorta
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Plant of the week- Sophora ‘Sun King’

sophera sunking 4 Plant of the week  Sophora ‘Sun King’

sophera sunking 2 Plant of the week  Sophora ‘Sun King’This weeks plant of the week is one that just seems to flower for months and months although I feel it’s March and into April when they really are their best. It is certainly one of my favourite plants since i moment I saw it growing in Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, down near the pond, indeed it was the original plant that was introduced by Hillier Nurseries.

This original plant of Sophora ‘Sun King’ came from some seed Nothofagus seed sent to Sir Harold Hillier Gardens from Chile. When the Nothofagus germinated it was found to have an interloper amongst them, this grew into a very beautiful shrub indeed, flowering some years later. It was thought to be a form of S.microphylla although it is now thought to of been a hybrid. It was introduced by Hilliers in the late 1990’s after it had done so well at the gardens surviving many cold winters and it is indeed still growing away strong to this day, my photos are of that particular plant!

sophera sunking Plant of the week  Sophora ‘Sun King’There is a lot of rubbish spoken about Sophora ‘Sun King’ about its height and soil dislikes. It does only get to a maximum size of about 3m in height and width as a few standing shrub, trained as a wall shrub it is able to get a little taller, up to 4m in height but no where near the 8m I have seen written down. Soil wise, Sophora ‘Sun King’ will take most soils from shallow chalk to clay, (yes even read it dislikes clay, the original plant is on solid london clay!) as long as it isn’t waterlogged. Again it will take most aspects although if the garden is particularly cold, a slightly more sheltered spot is better. It flowers much better if it is in a sheltered spot. Sophora ‘Sun King’ starts producing its yellow pea like flowers after its around 8yrs old and these start appearing in January and will continue flowering well into May some years. In Chile, the flowers of Sophora sp are mainly propagated by hummingbirds but here in the uk, it’s the bees that help the process. These flowers are offset by the stunning dark green foliage with up to 40 leaflets are used to form each leaf. It is evergreen but in a very hard winter, it will drop its leaves. The Name Sophora comes from Arabic meaning a small tree with pea like flowers. Sun King is partly in homage to its Chilean roots as well as the colour of the flowers.

sophera sunking 4 Plant of the week  Sophora ‘Sun King’Sophora ‘Sun King’ has very few pests and diseases that attack it apart from the usual slugs and snails when young. Like all plants, it would benefit from a feed of Vitax Q4 in the spring as well as a compost mulch to help increase the health of the surrounding soil. Sophora ‘Sun King’ is propagated by grafting on to a rootstock of Sophora microphylla in the late winter early spring. It is very difficult to propagate from cuttings although I have heard of people succeeding using Air layering methods.

Sophora ‘Sun King’ is now widely available from most nurseries and is seen in most big gardens like RHS Wisley but it’s Sir Harold Hillier Gardens where the original plant is still growing strong

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Plant of the week- Camellia x williamsii ‘J C Williams’

camellia x williamsii j c williams 2 Plant of the week  Camellia x williamsii ‘J C Williams’

camellia x williamsii j c williams Plant of the week  Camellia x williamsii ‘J C Williams’One of the sure signs of spring to me has to be the camellias opening up. I know that their are forms like C. sansanqua types, like the one I featured late last year. But those just start the Camellia season and it’s not until the main flowering groups like C.japonica, C.retectulata and of course the C.x williamsii hybrids start flowering in their droves I feel that winter is on its way out.

Camellia x williamsii are a cross between Camellia japonica and Camellia saluenensis. This hybridisation was done on purpose by the great plantsmen J C Williams and Col. Stephenson Clarke at Borde Hill Gardens. It was John Charles Williams who made the first cross in 1923 down in his great garden in Cornwall called Caerhays. The Williams family supported many plant hunting trips by some of our greatest plant hunters and some of the wonders grow quite happy in this real plantsperson garden. The magnolias are of particular note, with some of the very best cambellii trees in the uk. It was indeed at the walls of Caerhays, Camellia saluenensis flowered for the first time in the uk and was crossed soon after by J C Williams to form the Camellia x williamsii hybrids. Indeed from the first batch of seedlings, Camellia x williamsii ‘J C Williams’ was selected and named.

camellia x williamsii j c williams 3 Plant of the week  Camellia x williamsii ‘J C Williams’

Camellia x williamsii ‘J C Williams’ starts the odd flower from the end of November and it can flower right up to the end of March but I feel in February it is at its best. It’s single flowers range from light pink to a dark pink, are highlighted by the dark green foliage. Camellia x williamsii ‘J C Williams’ is also one of the best hybrids to grow on a wall, preferably one that does get a little shade. Over time Camellia x williamsii ‘J C Williams’ can make a shrub up to 5m high and 3m across but if you don’t have the space, they can be lightly pruned after flowering. If it does get too big, camellias can be reduced down to stumps if required.

Camellia x williamsii ‘J C Williams’ is like all other Camellias in the the fact it does grow best in lime free soil, ideally one that hold moisture well but is also free draining. It is effected by few pests, scale insects are the worse, they live under the leaves and drop their honeydew poo onto the leaves below, Black sooty mould then grows on this, making the plant look unsightly. It is also pretty resistant to Honey Fungus so maybe worth adding to a spot where the existing plant has been killed off by the disease.

camellia x williamsii j c williams 2 Plant of the week  Camellia x williamsii ‘J C Williams’Camellia x williamsii ‘J C Williams’ is also pretty easy to grow, a yearly feed of Vitax Q4 and a mulch of well rotted compost just after it has finished flowering would be ideal. As would watering if we get a dry spell in mid-late summer as this is when the flowering buds are formed. Camellia x williamsii ‘J C Williams’ can be easy propagated by heal cuttings in late summer. These are short lengths of newish growth, ideally a couple of years old, pulled gently off a cut branch so some of the existing branch is still there and gives it a heal. These cuttings are best given a little bit of heat in a propagator and should start to grow away before the winter months.

Camellia x williamsii ‘J C Williams’ can be seen in most large gardens that have a good Camellia collection like RHS Wisley and is quite widely sold. Burncoose of Southdown, in Cornwall are still owed by a branch of the Williams family and it’s well worth ordering one from there

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Plant of the Week-Acer griseum

acer griseum 2 Plant of the Week Acer griseum

acer griseum Plant of the Week Acer griseum

I have been wanting to add this most beautiful of trees to the plant of the week for many months now, just other plants have got in the way but on Saturday I was staring at quite a few of them at The Sir Hillier Gardens and decided this is the week to feature this tree.

acer griseum 2 Plant of the Week Acer griseum

Acer griseum is a small tree, native of the central area of China in the Sichuan, Shaanxi, Henan, Hubel,Gansu, Hanan and Shanxi provinces, where it grows in woodland between 1500-2000m above sea level. It was introduced into to western civilisation by one of the greatest plant hunters of them all, a chap called Ernest Wilson, for the famous Veitch Nursery in 1901. Ernest Wilson or Chinese Wilson introduced 1,200 new plants into our gardens during his time as a plant hunter in China. This included 400 new species and 4 new genera. The name comes from Ancient Greek, Acer means bitter and griseum means greyish.

acer grisum Plant of the Week Acer griseum

Acer griseum or the paper barked maple can grow up to 50ft tall over a period of many years, it is quite a slow growing tree and most specimens reach no more than 30ft often nearer 20ft in height. Making it an ideal tree for the smaller gardens. The leaves themselves as quite attractive with a greyish underneath and a light green on top and are formed of 3 leaflets on each leave. The leaves do turn a beautiful red and orange colour in the autumn months. The flowers are borne in mid spring around April time and are small and yellow in colour. As the common name may suggest, it’s for its bark this tree is really grown for. The bark ranges in the different shades of brown and peels off the tree in sheets of brown paper that is very stunning! This effect normally starts happening when the tree is at least 4 years old and so does require a good size specimen for the garden if you would like to see the best from it. With the sunlight behind it, it is breathtakingly beautiful and has fast become one of the main stays in a winter garden.

grisuem Plant of the Week Acer griseum

It is also Acer griseum’s ability to grow in all types of soils including clay, chalk and sand that has also helped it become so popular. The only thing it needs is for the soil to be moist and fairly free draining. It is also pretty disease and pest free. It’s size and slow growth, means it’s ideal for most size gardens, from the small to the massive, where it can look magnificent grown in small groves. It requires very little pruning, maybe removal of lower branches when young to give a clear stem if required and removal of crossing branches and dead wood, that is about it. The one fault Acer griseum has is that the seeds tend to be pathenocarpy, which means they will form but will contain no seed. This reduces the germination rate down to around 5% for them but seed is still one of the best ways to grow it. Grafting is another way it is propagated.

Garden wise, Acer griseum can be found in most large gardens, there’s a lovely one At Mottisfont Abbey gardens, great examples at RHS Wisley and Rosemoor and of course Sir Harold Hilliers Garden. It is also pretty easy to buy, with most good Nurseries and garden centres able to supply it

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Plant of the week: Garrya elliptica ‘James Roof’

img 1990 1 Plant of the week: Garrya elliptica ‘James Roof’

img 1900 Plant of the week: Garrya elliptica ‘James Roof’

The plant of the week this week is a widely planted shrub that’s really starting to look great at this time of the year. And it rightly deserves this wide planting for its a tough plant

Garrya elliptica ‘James Roof’ is a evergreen shrub that sometimes is called Silk tassel bush or Quinine bush. It is a native of USA where it grows in a couple of different areas, the first one is on the coast of South Oregon and into California very near the coast well within 20miles of it. The other place it can be found growing on the mountains around the Pacific coastline in areas like Montana and San Bruno mountain ranges. It tends to grow 200m above sea level in the more damper spots along the coast.

img 1990 Plant of the week: Garrya elliptica ‘James Roof’

It was first discovered by one of the greatest plant collectors of all America, David Douglas in 1828. Garrya was named after Garry Nichols. Garry Nichols was the deputy governor of the Hudson Bay company and managed the merger between them and North West Company. Hudson Bay Company controlled the fur trade throughout North America and is still going as a trading company selling anything from clothes to digital space. The cultivar James Roof was named after the director of Tilden botanical gardens, California where this form was found growing in amongst some seedlings.

img 1993 Plant of the week: Garrya elliptica ‘James Roof’

Garrya elliptica ‘James Roof’ is an evergreen shrub with a sea green foliage. It makes a shrub that will reach 4m in height and width and makes both a great free standing shrub as well as a wall Plant. Garrya elliptica ‘James Roof’ makes a Great Wall shrub thriving on a north facing wall. It’s grown for its very beautiful greenish/grey catkins at start showing early winter and then open up around now to their full length of 20-35cm in the case of the male form James Roof. These catkins are really what this stunning shrub is grown for. Once they have finished flowering, they can stay on the shrubs for months after they have finished. It is pretty tough shrub, Hardy down to -15c but it will suffer a bit of browning on the leaves and some dieback at these temperatures. It prefers a soil that is pretty damp but is free draining, it will survive in drier soils but never does as well. It will quite take slightly acidic and alkaline soils, ideally in the PH range of 6-8. I have grown it on shallow soils over chalk without too many problems. It’s prefect for poor soils and coastal areas. Pruning wise it just needs a little shaping in April cutting the growth from last year down to a couple of buds on established plants and trim new growth on plants in training, down by half. Feeding is down using a compost mulch and vitax Q4 in around March time. Propagation is best done by semi-ripe cuttings taken in late summer. It is pretty disease and pest free, rabbits and deer don’t really like eating them!

Garrya elliptica ‘James Roof’ is available in most good garden centres and can be seen in most public gardens and in a lot of private gardens as well

img 1879 Plant of the week: Garrya elliptica ‘James Roof’

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Plant of the week-Phyllostachys aureosulcata f. spectabilis

phyllostachys aureosulcata f spectabilis 1 Plant of the week Phyllostachys aureosulcata f. spectabilis

phyllostachys aureosulcata f spectabilis 3 Plant of the week Phyllostachys aureosulcata f. spectabilis

Well it’s time for another large group of plants I haven’t featured before, bamboos. They are a very useful group of plants as well, even more so at this time of year, as their bright canes help to enhance the winter garden and there is no bamboo that can do this better than Phyllostachys aureosulcata f. spectablis.

phyllostachys aureosulcata f spectabilis Plant of the week Phyllostachys aureosulcata f. spectabilis

Phyllostachys aureosulcata is also know as the yellow-groove bamboo. It is a native of Zhejiang Province, Eastern China and was introduced in the USA in around 1901. In its native sites, it grows on the edges of woodlands and into woodland glades. Bamboos are normally divided up into clump forming and runners. Phyllostachys aureosulcata f. spectablis is a clump forming bamboo and can make a very big plant up to 7m in height and well over 3m wide. Phyllostachys aureosulcata f. spectablis has stunning yellow stems, that unlike others in the family, has a green strip in the distinctive groove in the back of the canes, hence the common name. They also sometimes make Zig Zag shape kinks in the canes as well. When the new canes emerge from the ground they are called Colms. With Phyllostachys aureosulcata f. spectablis they emerge with a pinkish tinge to them and are quite beautiful indeed. The name Phyllostachys is derived from the Greek phyllon meaning ‘leaf’ and stachys meaning ‘spike’. Aureosulcata is derived from the Latin aurea meaning ‘golden’ and sulcus meaning ‘furrow’.

phyllostachys aureosulcata specabilis 4 Plant of the week Phyllostachys aureosulcata f. spectabilis

Phyllostachys aureosulcata f. spectablis is a pretty tough bamboo, it will grow in most soils but it does prefer to be in sun or semishade. Even though it is a clump forming bamboo, it still can send out underground stems called rhizomes that help it spread into new areas. It is best to encase the bamboo in a root barrier, leaving enough room for the plant to grow. These clump forming bamboos tend to spread if they run out of food and water, so the best idea to keep them from spreading is to mulch once per year in the spring with garden compost, green waste and ensure that it has enough water during the dry spells. Each cane or colm, grows to its maximum height within 1 year. It is a good idea in each spring to remove a few of the older weaker canes from the clump to keep the clump looking young. It also give the new colms room to grow within the clump. The worse thing you can do is try and control the spread by removing the new canes, this will make the plant want to spread even more as it feels it’s under threat in this space. In the autumn it is also worth removing the lower leaves on the stems up to 5ft to let the stems shine though. Only other maintenance required is cutting back any rhizomes that spread from the plant. It is pretty disease free and is only propagated by dividing up the main clump.

It’s height and size makes it prefect to block off not so pleasant views from the garden so is excellent as either a specimen plant or as a screening plant.

It can be found at Both Sir Harold Hillier Gardens and round RHS Wisley. It can be brought from many Nurseries including The Big Plant Nursery and Burncoose of Southdown.

phyllostachys aureosulcata specabilis Plant of the week Phyllostachys aureosulcata f. spectabilis

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Plant of the week-Helleborus x hybridus Walberton’s Rosemary ‘Walhero’

helleborus walbertons rosemary walhero Plant of the week Helleborus x hybridus Walbertons Rosemary Walhero

helleborus walbertons rosemary walhero Plant of the week Helleborus x hybridus Walbertons Rosemary Walhero

Well it’s been just about a year since I started Plant of the week and there are so many plants left to feature and some that surprise me I haven’t featured before and hellebores fall into that. It surprises me as I do love love hellebores and this one has become a firm favourite during the past few years since I first saw it.

helleborus walbertons rosemary walhero 3 Plant of the week Helleborus x hybridus Walbertons Rosemary Walhero

Normally a this stage I would tell you about the plant and where in the world it came from but this hellebore is a cross between H.niger and H.x hybridus. It’s not often these 2 hybridised, indeed it was only the second time it happened. This hybrid was found here in the uk by David Tristram, Walberton Nursery, West Sussex in 2000 but wasn’t released until 2009. It was named for his wife Rosemary. Helleborus niger and helleborus x hybridus hybrids have been hybridised in Japan before but have never really been commercially available until this form was bred. The name helleborus comes from Ancient Greek words, Helen meaning to injure and bora meaning food.

helleborus walbarton rosemary1 2 Plant of the week Helleborus x hybridus Walbertons Rosemary Walhero

Helleborus x hybridus Walberton’s Rosemary ‘Walhero’ makes a excellent garden plant. It needs a good fertile soil with some moisture retention, it’s quite happy to grow on most Ph soils as long as it doesn’t dry out or get too waterlogged. But unlike most hellebores, Helleborus x hybridus Walberton’s Rosemary ‘Walhero’ is more happy in light semi shade and full sun than shady spots. Helleborus x hybridus Walberton’s Rosemary ‘Walhero’ starts flowering about now and will flower for a good 4-8 weeks depending on the weather. The flowers themselves are sterile meaning they don’t set seed, the best way to propagate them is by division. This is best carried out in the autumn or after they have finished flowering. Here’s my blog on dividing perennial plants. The wonderful this about hellebores is that deer and rabbits don’t like them at all and will leave them alone. They do suffer from a few other pests as well like hellebore aphids, hellebore Black Death, hellebore leaf miner and hellebore leaf spot. It does seem a lot of problems but they are pretty easy to look after and don’t often suffer with many problems. The only maintenance they need is their old leaves and finished flowers to be removed. More information about how to do that can be found here. It is worth giving them a feed of Vitax Q4 after they have finished flowering and also a good mulch of garden compost or recycled green waste.

Helleborus x hybridus Walberton’s Rosemary ‘Walhero’ can be seen growing well at RHS Wisley as it is here and many other gardens. It can be brought from the great hellebore nursery Ashwood Nurseries and Hardys Cottage Plants

helleborus walbertons rosemary walhero 4 Plant of the week Helleborus x hybridus Walbertons Rosemary Walhero

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Plant of the week- Sarcococca ruscifolia var. chinensis ‘Dragon Gate’

sarcococca ruscifolia var chinensis dragon gate 3 Plant of the week  Sarcococca ruscifolia var. chinensis Dragon Gate

Umm I must start choosing plants with shorter names for my plant of the week, however the length of the name, each Plant of the week is selected on merit and Sarcococca ruscifolia var. chinensis ‘Dragon Gate’ is certainly here for that reason!

sarcococca ruscifolia var chinensis dragon gate 2 Plant of the week  Sarcococca ruscifolia var. chinensis Dragon Gate

Sarcococca ruscifolia var. chinensis ‘Dragon Gate’ is a highly scented winter flowering shrub. It’s flowers can be scented many metres away from the plant and it’s always fun watching people searching for the source of the scent and being shocked when they find it’s coming from this shrub with tiny flowers.

Sarcococca ruscifolia var. chinensis ‘Dragon Gate’ is a mouthful of a name but Sarcococca comes from the Greek works sarkos meaning flesh and kokkos meaning berry, really after the fleshy berries on the plant. Ruscifolia means Ruscus like leaves and chinensis means Chinese from the country of origin.

sarcococca ruscifolia var chinensis dragon gate Plant of the week  Sarcococca ruscifolia var. chinensis Dragon Gate

This Chinese form of the winter box was discovered by the great Roy Lancaster in 1980, outside a Chinese temple in the Yuccan area of China. This form is a compact form of Sarcococcca, growing to 0.6×0.6m wide shrub after 5yrs. The small but highly scented flowers are borne on the stems often at times, with the red/blue/black berries from last years flowers. These flowers are barely 5-10mm big and are open from mid December through to March time. The dark green glossy leaves are quite small even for a Sarcococco. It will grow quite happily in full sun, partial shade and deep shade. It is happy to grow in most soils as long as it’s not too waterlogged. It is a tough plant that isn’t effected by too many pests, as it’s a member of the Buxus family, it can suffer with box blight which is the worse It’s also pretty deer resistant. Like all Sarcococca, it can be trimmed after flowering to keep a more compact shape. Once it’s finished flowering again I give it a light feed of Vitax Q4.

Sarcococca ruscifolia var. chinensis ‘Dragon Gate’ is easy to propagate. It’s either done but semi ripe cuttings taken in late summer or by sowing the seeds in early autumn into a free draining compost mix and lightly covered in grit

Sarcococca ruscifolia var. chinensis ‘Dragon Gate’ can be found in most large botanical gardens like RHS Wisley or Sir Harold Hillier Gardens. It is sold pretty widely by many places like RHSWisley Plant centre but also by trade nurseries like Provender nurseries in Kent

sarcococca ruscifolia var chinensis dragon gate 3 Plant of the week  Sarcococca ruscifolia var. chinensis Dragon Gate

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