Tag Archive: euonymus

All-green leaves are starting to poke through the variegated ones ('Reversion')

All-green leaves are starting to poke through the variegated ones (‘Reversion’)

Don’t let Green shoots dominate variegated trees or shrubs

Variegated trees and shrubs – those whose leaves are attractively streaked, striped, edged or splashed with another colour, such as white or yellow-  usually originate as a variegated shoot on a normal green plant. They have to be propagated from cuttings to keep the variegation.

Variegated plants are not always stable, and some shoots can revert to the original green. This often occurs, for instance, with the popular evergreen shrub Euonymus fortunei ‘Emerald ‘n’ Gold’ and with variegated box elders (Acer negundo). the green reverting shoots contain more green colouring (chlorophyll) and produce more food for growth. this makes them more vigourous than variegated ones, so green shoots will eventually overtake variegated growth in size and vigour if they are not removed.

Remove reverting shoots as soon as they arr seen by cutting them back to wood with the variegated foliage. This often means removing entire shoots.

Occasionally shoots will change to entirely cream or yellow leaves, but because of the lack of green colouring they often grow weakly and so are less of a problem.

Source: ‘RHS Wisley Experts Gardeners’ Advice’- Dorling Kindersley 2004

Old School Gardener

Picture by Bob Osborn

Picture by Bob Osborn

The ‘E’ in my A-Z of garden trees is a star autumn performer and can also be grown as a deciduous shrub. As I write this, my own (shrub) example of Euonymus (the alatus or ‘winged spindle’ species) here in Old School Garden has just lost all of it’s new leaves – possibly a virus or scale attack? Still, I have gathered some seeds from hedgerow examples of europaeus and the small seedlings seem to be doing well, so maybe I shall- in a few years- have a replacement or two!

Common name: ‘Spindle’, ‘European Spindle’, ‘Common Spindle’

Native areas: native to much of Europe, where it inhabits the edges of forest, hedges and gentle slopes, tending to thrive on nutrient-rich, chalky and salt-poor soils. It is a decduous shrub or small tree.

Historical notes: European spindle wood is very hard, and can be cut to a sharp point- it was used in the past for making wool spindles (used to spin the wool into thread).

Features: Euonymus europaeus grows to 3–6 m (10–20 ft) tall, rarely 10 m (33 ft), with a stem up to 20 cm (8 in) in diameter. The leaves are opposite, lanceolate to elliptical, 3-8 cm long and 1-3 cm broad, with a finely serrated edge. Leaves are dark green in summer. Autumn colour ranges from yellow-green to reddish-purple, depending on environmental conditions. Flowers are produced in late spring and are insect-pollinated; they are rather inconspicuous, small, yellowish green and grow in cymes of of 3-8 together. The capsular fruit ripens in autumn, and is red to purple or pink in colour and approximately 1-1.5 cm wide (opening, when ripe, to reveal orange seed cases).

Uses:  Spindle is a popular ornamental in gardens and parks due to its bright pink or purple fruits and attractive autumn colouring, in addition to its resistance to frost and wind. It has been introduced to North America where it has become an invasive species in some areas. Grown as a shrub it is useful for hedging and screens, is relatively low maintenhance and as a tree looks good in ‘Cottage’, informal and wildlife gardens.

The cultivar ‘Red Cascade’ has gained the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit (AGM).This is a small arching tree (mature height 3-5 metres), and produces an abundance of rosy red fruits which open to reveal vivid orange seed cases. The foliage display in autumn is fantastic with green leaves turning to rich red by November. This variety is one of the best forms for gardens, parks and resticted spaces.

Growing conditions: Grow in well-drained soil in sun or partial shade. propagate by sed or semi-hardwood cuttings. A good choice for even chalky soils, it will thrive in most soils, but avoid waterlogged ground. Prone to caterpillars and vine weevils and may suffer from powdery mildew.

640px-Illustration_Euonymus_europaea0Further information:


RHS- Euonymus europaeus

Barcham trees directory- ‘Red Cascade’

How to grow Euonymus europaeus ‘Red Cascade’

Old School Gardener


Topiarised Heather in a container

This week’s question is from Ivor Smallplot in Suffolk:

‘I have a small courtyard garden and wish to grow some shrubs in pots. What are the best varieties for this purpose, please?’

Heathers do well in pots, Ivor – even if your soil is rather limey (alkaline), you can provide an acid soil in the containers and so grow the summer flowering varieties. All the Hebes (shrubby Veronicas) are happy in pots, as are the less vigorous Berberis – but mind the thorns!

For winter colour plant the evergreen Euonymus, especially the delightfully variegated ones such as ‘Emerald Gaiety’, ‘Aureopictus’ and ‘Silver Queen’. New Zealand Flax (Phormium tenax) is also a good looker with its long, narrow leaves in many colours, as are Yuccas, with their rosettes of long needle-pointed leaves.

Further afield in the garden, you might want to grow shrubs that are especially attractive to bees. If so try flowering currants (Ribes) and goat willow (Salix caprea) for early flowering. Later in the year there are many shrubs to choose from including the ever popular ‘Butterfly Bush’ (Buddleja davidii), Californian Lilac (Ceanothus), Firethorn (Pyracantha), Lilac (Syringa), Gorse (Ulex) and Daisy Bush (Olearia).

Ceanothus jepsonii

Ceanothus jepsonii

Old School Gardener

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Griselina littoralis- a good seaside hedge

Griselina littoralis- a good seaside hedge

I’ve had a few queries about hedges recently and this one, from Robert Galbraith is my choice for this week’s GQT:

‘We live in a bungalow near the seashore in Sussex, where the soil is rather sandy. Could you suggest some suitable hedging plants to give our garden a bit of privacy, please?’

There is quite a wide choice of suitable plants Robert. You could go for Grisselina littoralis which has thick yellowish – green leaves forming a dense, solid hedge if formally clipped and will grow in most soils. Escallonia ‘Langleyensis’, with red flowers in June – July is often grown in seaside locations and has glossy evergreen foliage. Other varieties are E. macrantha with deep red flowers in June – September and E. ‘Slieve Donard’ with large pink flowers in June- August.

Sea Buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) has silvery grey foliage and orange berries (if both male and female forms are grown). Tamarisk pentandra has feathery flowers in August whilst the form T. tetranda is May – flowering.

Euonymus japonicus, with evergreen shiny leaves is also available in variegated forms which can withstand close clipping as does the shrubby honeysuckle Lonicera nitida with small golden – green leaves.

More generally, and not necessarily suitable for a seaside home, the best ornamental evergeen hedges for formal training and clipping are Yew and Holly. Box is also suitable, but is very slow growing and expensive so is best kept as low hedging (up to about 1 metre tall) or feature, perhaps topiarised, bushes. Hedges of Cypress and Cherry Laurel are also good for an evergreen barrier and Privet, provided it is trained correctly from planting, will supply a satisfactory semi-evergreen barrier.

Cherry Laurel

Cherry Laurel

Old School Gardener

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