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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- Cornus Alba ‘Sibirica Ruby’

cornus alba sibrica ruby 2 Plant of the week  Cornus Alba ‘Sibirica Ruby’

cornus alba sibrica ruby Plant of the week  Cornus Alba ‘Sibirica Ruby’

Ahh another week returns and this plant of the week is surprisingly one of a group of plants that haven’t featured yet, so there’s no time like the present is there!

Cornus alba ‘Sibirica’ is as its name suggests is a form that came from Siberia. Cornus alba itself does have a wide range, growing from Siberia into Russia and China. These forms of C.alba also grow in thickets up to 3m tall while ‘Sibirica’ is slightly smaller growing up to 2.4m tall, which is some of the reasons it makes it a good plant for the smaller gardens. This form Ruby was selected from a batch of seedlings for having the most brightest red stems. Sibirica was first introduced into the uk though Westonbirt arboretum in around 1838.

cornus alba sibrica ruby 2 Plant of the week  Cornus Alba ‘Sibirica Ruby’

Cornus alba ‘Sibirica Ruby’ is mainly grown for its bright red stems that give us so much delight during the winter months. If left unpruned, it will make a shrub up to just over 2.4m in height that produces while flowers in May and June which are followed by white flushed with purple fruits. The dark green leaves turn a stunning dark red colour before falling off to expose the red stems.

cornus alba sibirca 4 Plant of the week  Cornus Alba ‘Sibirica Ruby’

Growing wise, it prefers a nice damp soil but will grow away quite happily in alkaline or acidic soils. It prefers a sunny or semi shady spot in your garden. When planting, it is best to add plenty of organic material. It can be left to form a medium sized shrub but if you do this, you lose The intense redness of the stems. To get the best stem colour, you have to prune hard back down to 150mm each spring around the end of March, you can prune the whole plant like this or if you would like flowers, thin out half the plant as per above and leave half, next winter it is these 2yr old stems you cut down and leave the 1yr stems alone. After pruning, I tend to mulch with garden compost and feed with Vitax Q4. It doesn’t suffer from too many pests and diseases. Propagation wise, it is pretty easy to grow from either layering a stem onto the ground or from hardwood cuttings taken in early November and left in a cold frame until the spring

Best place to see it, is indeed RHS Wisley where it can be found near the big pond. Buying wise this form can be a bit tricky! Last in the plant finder in 2015!

cornus alba sibrica ruby 3 Plant of the week  Cornus Alba ‘Sibirica Ruby’

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Plant of the week- Luma apiculata

luma apiculata 2 Plant of the week  Luma apiculata

luma apiculata Plant of the week  Luma apiculata

This weeks Plant of the week is again one of those most beautiful of plants that isn’t sadly widely grown here in the uk but it has so much to offer us.

Luma apiculata is a native of South America, mainly around the Andes mountain range that encompasses Chile and Argentina. In its native counties, it mainly grows in temperate forests like Valdivana in Chile and Los Arrayanes National Park in Argentina, where there is a complete forest of Luma. Although it is from these areas, it is completely hardy in most parts of the uk, although it will struggle in the colder areas. It is one of the taller members of the Myrtle family, reaching 10-15m in its native areas but a lot smaller here in the uk making it an ideal tree for a small garden. It has also naturalised in some parts of The uk, mainly in the west and also in parts of Ireland as well as some parts of the USA.

luma apiculata 2 Plant of the week  Luma apiculata

It is mainly grown for its stunning cinnamon and cream coloured bark that really shines out during the winter months but the summer borne flowers are also highly fragrant and well worth growing for the scent alone. The honey produced by the bees from luma, is very much sort after. An edible black/blue berry about 1cm across then follows the flowers. The leaves themselves are quite small and delicate around 2x1cm in size, a lovely dark brown colour and like most other members of the Myrtle family, have a slight scent to them. It is also happy to grow on all types of soil including clay and chalk as long as it is free draining but also doesn’t dry out too much. It is pretty easy going without any major pest and diseases and requires very little pruning other than removing dead wood and crossing wood. It does make a good bonsai subject and is on my want list for pruning in the Japanese Niwaki style. It is quite easily propagated by either sowing seed or taking hard wood cuttings of it at this time of year.

There is another form available called ‘Glanleam Gold’ which is a delightful variegated version and is a little more widely sold.

It can be seen again at the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens and can be brought from my reliable sources at Pan Global Plants and Botanica

luma apiculata 4 Plant of the week  Luma apiculata

2YnoBk1500924993 Plant of the week  Luma apiculata