Archive | Shrubs and Trees

Tips on the selection and growing trees shrubs and hedges

Edgeworthia Gardeners Tips

Edgeworthia is a genus of shrubs that flower in small clusters of scented 4 petaled flowers tightly packed to form a ball shape. The genus is related to the Daphne family and can be grown in the UK with similar treatment and success.

You can get a long display as they flowers open progressively from winter through February until it leafs up in spring. Varieties may be evergreen or deciduous.

Key Tips

  • Avoid waterlogged soil and soil prone to drying out.
  • Plants grow well around other shrubs without being too enclosed.
  • Despite being called the Paper tree it only responds well to light pruning to retain shape.
  • Buy when the plants are in leaf so you can assess it’s health

Growing Characteristics

  • Plants mature to a height of  5ft by 5ft in a rounded shape.
  • Plants  would survive  in a greenhouse or conservatory if your garden is too exposed.
  • Flowers are in terminal clusters opening in January February before the leaves.
  • Leaves of the deciduous varieties are lance-shaped, dark green and 6ins long.
  • The bark is  cinnamon-coloured with papery flakes.   Bark was used in the manufacture of high-quality paper for Japanese banknotes.

Edgeworthia Varieties

  • Edgeworthia chrysantha produces a tight yellow ball shaped flower on a leafless stem
  • Edgeworthia chrysantha ‘Rubra’
  • Edgeworthia chrysantha ‘Red Dragon’ as the name implies has fiery red flowers when fully open
  • Edgeworthia papyrifera is also known as the paperbush
  • Edgeworthia chrysantha Grandiflora is reputed to have larger flowerheads

Plants are available from Thomson and Morgan (credit the Photo) and Burncoose


Gaultheria Berries in Winter

Purple and White Berried Gaultheria

  • Gaultheria are a range of shrubs often with aromatic evergreen leaves.
  • Grow for the fleshy coloured berries or calyx and look for Gaultheria mucronata
  • Some species are unisex and one male to six female shrubs will increase berrying
  • Grow in acid soil conditions with heathers and conifers or in a pot with ericaceous compost.
  • Flowers and leaves are small in comparison to the berries
  • The plants do not want any extra fertiliser
  • Also named Pernettya or Prickly Heath

Silver Birch – 8 Species Review

Silver Birch look the part on a cold and frosty morning. The white or silvery trunk looks good singly or when grouped together.
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Key Features of the Silver Birch

  • Latin name Betula pendula other common names Curly birch, Paper Birch, Weeping Birch or Ribbon Tree
  • Height up to 100 feet 30m narrow spread.
  • Type of tree – Deciduous broad leaf
  • Leaves – Green and triangular shaped with toothed edges.
  • Flowers Male and female catkins borne on the same tree.
    Male are yellow and drooping female green and upright, later pendulous when fertilised.
  • Fruit Winged seeds borne in catkins
  • Bark Silver white with black fissures.
  • Family Betulacea

Origins and Distribution of the Silver Birch

  • European origin found throughout Europe, western and northern Asia.
  • Seeds prolifically and is found in Canada, Scandinavia, Turkey and widely spread as a specimen ornamental.

Uses and Commercial Attributes of the Silver Birch

  • Used for making barrels and furniture. The wood is too soft for use in construction
  • The fine twiggy branches are used for brooms and besoms as well as racecourse jumps.
  • Used as an ornamental tree in parks and gardens.
  • Silver birch is popular in Finland where it is the national tree used in forestry and as branches to beat yourself in the sauna.
  •   Historically the paper like bark was used in ancient times for writing Sanskrit texts and it is still used today for sacred mantras.

Gardeners Tips for the Silver Birch

  • Silver Birch grow in a cool climate and enjoy an occasional winter snowfall.
  • They are fast growing, shallow rooted that may require water during dry periods.
  • They grow best and show most colour in full sun planted in deep, well-drained soil..
  • Trees are short lived and rot from damage so dislike pruning.
  • They are often planted amongst leafy rhododendrons and conifers where the white bark is particularly striking.
  • The deciduous foliage turns yellow in autumn.

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Poplar Roundabout Felled in Sep-timber

In an oval roundabout in Menston a dozen Poplar trees were planted in the 1970s. As you can see only about half survive and these have been mistreated by polling them to restrict height.

What you may want to know about Poplars

  • Poplars (Populus)  are rapidly growing trees with shallow, spreading roots. Do not plant them near buildings.
  • The Black Poplar (nigra) has a shortish life of around 30 years so I shouldn’t be surprised by the state of these trees.
  • White Poplars (alba) are suckering trees with white woolly undersides to the leaf.
  • Balsam poplars can grow 6 feet per year and have a balsamic scent.
  • Female trees have long catkins but they are too high up these trees to see.

Poplar trees are usually felled in Sep-timber!


Cloak a wall in Jasmine

This Winter Jasmine or Jasminum Nudiflorum is just flowering on a neighbours, southwest facing, brick wall. Flowering a bit earlier this year it should flower through to March. The result shown is as a result of regular pruning and the stems have been tied in.

  • Left to it own devices the winter jasmine will form a 2 foot high mound as it won’t twine and is unable to climb unaided.
  • Cuttings from the arching stems can be taken in early summer.
  • Although deciduous the young stems are green and the flowers are born on bare stems giving the overall impression of an evergreen.
  • Unlike indoor Jasmine this plant has little or no fragrance
  • The AGM has been awarded to Jasminum Nudiflorum and it also has an apt Chinese name ‘Welcoming Spring Flower’


Uses for Crab Apples

Crab apples can be used as food, for ornamental effect, to help pollination, or for the wood. The wild crab apple found individually in woods has green fruit turning golden in Autumn. Cultivated crab apples vary in habit and grow upto 10 feet. Fruiting this year looks like a bumper harvest after the wet weather earlier in the year.

Crab Apples make attractive ornamental trees with their pink or white blossom, followed by colourful autumn fruits that make delicious preserves. Varieties John Downie, Golden Hornet, Laura and Red Sentinel are all self fertile. Crab apples planted near fruiting apple trees make excellent pollinators and will help pollinating bees to increase your crops.

Crab apples are used to make jelly, pickles or can be roasted and served with meat or added to winter ale or cider. Any unpicked fruits will soften after a few frosts and will create a sumptuous food source for wild birds from late January until March. For a jelly recipe with a chillie kick try Cottage Smallholder

The timber of the crab apple is uniform in texture and if dried slowly, is excellent for woodworking. At one time it was used for making set-squares and other drawing instruments. Failing that apple wood burns in your chimenea of fire grate with a nice aroma.

Order now for winter delivery Crab Apples at Thompson & Morgan


Strange and Attractive Autumn Shrubs

It is worth inspecting closely the plants that have waited all year to bloom or display special features.

This purple and white flower combination was covering an 8 foot high and wide bushy shrub at Thorp Perrow. It was catalogued as ‘Clerodendron trichotomum’. I have managed to kill my own Clerodendron so I was happy to see a large sweetly scented plant in such robust health. The white flowers and maroon calyces will be followed by blue berries for which the plant gets its Autumn plaudits. I would recommend this variety rather than Clerodendron bungei which is less gainly and has feotid leaves.

I am trying to work out what this shapely shrub with the long blue pods is called. Any ideas?

Cornus Kausa ‘Gold Star’ is a variety to look out for with the variegated foliage and the red seed pods in Autumn.

Other Resources

Royal Horticultural Society RHS ‘Gardening for All’
National Council for Conservation of Plants and Gardens ‘Conservation through Cultivation.’
Garden Organic National Charity for Organic Gardening.
BBC Gardening


Many Magnificent Magnolia Varieties and Species


Magnolia Varieties

  • Magnolia ‘Sunrise’ – White with red stripe
  • Magnolia ‘Black Tulip’ -Deep purple with full petals
  • Magnolia ‘Red Lucky’ -Pink with red base
  • Magnolia ‘Jade Lamp’ – Pure white
  • Magnolia ‘Crystal Cup’ -Cream
  • Magnolia denudata Yellow River
  • Magnolia ‘Pink Beauty’ –
  • Magnolia ‘Betty’ – Deep pink to cerise

Available from Thompson & Morgan


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Roses on April 1st

You may wonder how roses flower on 1st April when your favourite flower is just at its summer best

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This is not a joke or April fools day prank but the pictures of all these roses were taken in Madieria on that date.

In sheltered spots old fashioned roses will bloom earlier than HT or Floribunda roses. I am told that by the end of April the Cornish gardens will have roses in bloom.

Meanwhile we will have to be content with these photographs, our memories and the work still to be done on roses in our gardens.

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I was impressed by the volume of rose buds on this rose. It had a slightly rambling appearance and I regret it was not labeled.

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Training climbing roses can produce some great shapes and flowers. The balustrade for these steps will be strewn with blossom in a month or so’s time.

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Magnolia Time

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Magnolias flower before or just as leaves are arriving. They pick their time and sometimes fall foul of the frost. Time and again I try protect the best of these flowering plants that are very hardy other than for the delicate flowers.

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Pink, white, cream and purple are the most common colours of Magnolia. (Why is magnolia paint such a wimpish shade?)

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The waxy petals have fantastic textures.

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Shrubs can grow into sizable trees particularly if protected from high wind.

Book Cover

See also

Magnolia Growing

Tips for growing Magnolia x soulangeana

Many magnificent Magnolias


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