Tag Archive: specimen


M.

Malus is a genus of about 30–55 species of small deciduous trees, including the domesticated orchard apple (M. domestica) and varieties of crab apple (including the ‘wild apple’, M. sylvestris). This profile focuses in particular on the crab apples. 

Common name:  Non domestic orchard apples are generally known as crabapples, crab apples, crabs, or wild apples.

Native areas: The genus is native to the temperate zone of the Northern Hemisphere.

Historical notes: In the past, M. sylvestris was thought to be an important ancestor of the cultivated orchard apples (M. domestica), but these have now been shown to have been originally derived from the central Asian species M. sieversii. However, another recent DNA analysis showed that M. sylvestris has contributed to the ancestry of modern M. domestica very significantly.

Features: Domestic orchard apple trees are typically 4–12 metres tall at maturity, with a dense, twiggy crown. The leaves are 3–10 cm long, alternate, simple, with a serrated margin. The flowers are borne in corymbs, and have five petals, which may be white, pink or red, usually with red stamens that produce copious pollen. Domestic apple trees are large if grown from seed, but small if grafted onto roots (rootstock). There are more than 7,500 known cultivars of domestic apples, resulting in a range of desired characteristics. Crab apples tend to be smaller than domestic apple trees at around 5 – 7 metres tall, with a rounded profile.

Uses:  Crab apples make ideal specimen trees for small gardens. They are popular as compact ornamental trees, providing blossom in Spring and colourful fruit in Autumn. The fruits often persist throughout Winter. Numerous hybrid cultivars have been selected, of which ‘John Downie’, Evereste’ and ‘Red Sentinel’ have gained The Royal Horticultural Society’s ‘Award of Garden Merit’ (AGM):

Malus sylvestrisarguably, one of the UK’s prettiest native trees, a small crab apple (or ‘wild apple’) with profuse white flowers, tinged pink in bud, and with good yellow autumn colour. Yellow/ green and occasionally red flushed fruit are a bird’s favourite in the autumn. Ideal for native mixed plantings or shelter belts that provide great low cover for wildlife.

Malus floribundathe ‘Japanese Crab’ is most elegant, with early white/pale blush flowers from crimson buds. However, it is prone to apple scab after flowering, resulting in a rather threadbare crown. Because of this it has tended to be superceded by more disease resistant clones such as ‘Rudolph’ and ‘Evereste’.

Malus ‘Evereste’ – introduced in the early 1980’s this rounded tree has profuse flowers that are red in bud before turning white. The small fruit look like miniature ‘Gala’ and are held on until they are taken by birds after Christmas. The orange-yellow autumn foliage also holds well.

 

 M. ‘John Downie’ – raised in 1875, this is thought by many to be the best fruiting crab. with an irregular oval crown it makes a splendid tree for a small space. White flowers are followed by relatively large, conical-shaped orange-red fruits, which have a food flavour if required for preserves or jelly.

M. x robusta ‘Red Sentinel’– in cultivation since 1959, this profusely fruiting crab is a favourite for gardeners who are looking for winter colour. In some years the clusters of dark red fruits are so numerous that the branches can weigh too heavily so that the crown loses its shape. I have one growing in Old School Garden; it is great alongside other winter interest such as red and orange- stemmed Cornus, and its fruits are useful in Christmas decorations such as front door wreaths. In spring, the red leaves contrast well with its white flowers.

M. x zumi ‘Golden Hornet’ – this well-known crab has been in cultivation for over 60 years and is highly regarded for its profuse display of yellow, marble-sized fruits, which are retained for many weeks. These are preceded by white blossom; a very good ‘all rounder’.

M. ‘Rudolph’ – A Canadian crab developed in the 1950’s, this medium size tree is rather columnar when young, but becomes rounder with maturity. It has leaves which gradually turn from copper-red to bronze-green and rose- pink flowers, which give way to numerous elongated fruits. Autumn leaf colour is clear yellow and it is resistant to scab; a tree which packs a lot of plusses into a small package!

Growing conditions:  Grow Crab apples in moderately fertile soil, though many will thrive on most soils and some are better suited to heavier soils, such as M. sylvestris. They will tolerate partial shade.

Further information:

Wikipedia- Malus

RHS- Malus sylvestris

RHS- Malus ‘Evereste’

RHS- Malus x robusta ‘Red Sentinel’

RHS- Malus x zumi ‘Golden Hornet’

Barcham Trees Directory- Malus ‘Rudolph’

Choosing a Crab apple- Daily Telegraph

Old School Gardener

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liquidambar-1440-900Liquidambar is a genus of four species of flowering trees; L. alcalycina; L. formosana; L. orientalis; and L. styraciflua.

Common name:  Common names of all of the species include ‘Sweet Gum’, with additions according to their native regions. Other names include ‘Chang’s Sweetgum’ (L. alcalycina),’Redgum’, ‘Satin Walnut’ and ‘American Storax’. Both the scientific and common names refer to the sweet resinous sap (liquid amber) exuded by the trunk when cut.

Native areas: L. alcalycina is native to central and southern China; L. formosana to China and other parts of S.E. Asia; L. orientalis to south-west Turkey, Greece and Rhodes; L. styraciflua to the eastern USA, Mexico and Honduras.

Historical notes: The genus was much more widespread in the Tertiary age, but has disappeared from Europe due to extensive glaciation in the north and the east-west orientated Alps and Pyrenees, which have served as a blockade against southward migration. It has also disappeared from western North America due to climate change, and also from the unglaciated (but nowadays too cold) Russian far east. L. styraciflua is the most common species used in the U.K. and was introduced from its native USA in the 17th century. It was awarded the RHS ‘Award of Garden Merit’ in 1975.

Features: All Liquidambar are large, deciduous trees, most 25–40 metres (82–131 ft) tall, with palmately 3- to 7-lobed leaves arranged spirally on the stems and length of 12.5 to 20 centimetres (4.9 to 7.9 in), having a pleasant aroma when crushed. Mature bark is grayish and vertically grooved. The flowers are small, produced in a dense globular inflorescence around 1-2 centimetres diameter. The fruit is a woody multiple capsule 2–4 centimetres (0.79–1.57 in) in diameter (popularly called a “gumball”), containing numerous seeds and covered in numerous prickly, woody armatures, possibly to attach to fur of animals. In more northerly climates, sweetgum is among the last of trees to leaf out in the spring, and also among the last of trees to drop its leaves in autumn, turning multiple colors. It is sometimes confused with Maple on account of its similar leaves.

Uses: All of the species provide incredible autumn colour. In the U.K. they are predominately used as specimens – against a fresh green lawn, their foliage colour really stands out – and as woodland trees. L. styraciflua makes a large tree with a pyramidal crown if its central leader is retained. Its attractive, corky bark is a feature at all times of the year, but it is at its most magnificent in the autumn, when it seems to burn with crimson and gold. Suitable for streets, avenues, parks and largish domestic gardens

There are now several cultivars of  L. styraciflua available:

‘Lane Roberts’– reliable in Britain, this is a medium-sized tree (10-15 metres mature height), with a tighter conical habit and larger leaves than the species. Good in groups for mass effect.

‘Manon Variegata’ – a must for those that like variegated trees, the foliage is best in summer, providing excellent contrast against darker leaved, evergreen backgrounds. Medium height (15- 20 metres mature height), it has regular pyramidal form with horizontal lateral branches.

‘Stella’ – with deeply cut, star-like leaves it is of medium height (10-15 metres) and has glorious autumn colour. best in larger gardens.

‘Thea’ – a broad -leaved and late to colour variety, ‘Thea’ grows conically to 15-20 metres tall. Similar to ‘Lane Roberts’ but taller. Distinctive purple foliage in the autumn.

‘Worplesden’ – unlike most other clones, this variety will often bear fruit in the U.K. This is the variety most often favoured for its autumn colour and form, growing to a mature height of 20 metres plus. It has deeply lobed leaves which turn yellow in September and then turn to orange before falling, but the outermost leaves gradually turn to magnificent claret red. The choice for large gardens.

Growing conditions:  L. styraciflua does best in fertile, well-drained soils, and is the hardiest species, tolerating down to -15 degrees C.  The other species can all be grown in the U.K. but vary in hardiness; down to -5 degs C. There are also hardy forms such as the L. formosana Monticola Group, which could be considered for colder areas. Liquidambar should be planted in full sun in neutral to acid soil that is moist but well-drained- it does not thrive in chalky soils. The genus resents transplanting, but if this is unavoidable, prepare by root-pruning a year in advance.

Further information:

Wikipedia- Liquidambar

RHS- Liquidambar styraciflua

Horticulture Week- Liquidambar

Gardener’s World- Liquidambar

Barcham Trees Directory- Liquidambar styraciflua ‘Worplesden’

Old School Gardener

koelreutia pan fastig fruit Koelreuteria is a genus of three species of flowering trees; K. paniculata, K. bipinnata and K. elegans

Common name:  Common names include Golden Rain Tree, Pride of India, China tree, or varnish tree

Native areas: The tree is Native to China and southern and eastern Asia.

Koelreutia elegans subsp. formosa

Koelreutia elegans subsp. formosa

Historical notes: It’s discovery is credited to Pierre d’Incarville, a Jesuit missionary; who sent first seed from China to Russia in 1747. It was classified by Russian botanist Erich Laxmann who named it after Joseph Gottlieb Kolreuter,  from Karlsruhe, Germany, a contemporary and professor of natural history. It was later grown in Europe (by 1753) and reached America in 1811. The variety K. paniculata ‘Fastigiata’ was raised by Kew Gardens from seeds received in 1888 from Shanghai.

Koelreutia bipinnata

Koelreutia bipinnata

Features: Koelreuteria are medium-sized deciduous trees growing to 10–20 m (33–66 ft) tall, with spirally arranged pinnate or bipinnate leaves. Leaves are pinkish in spring, turning yellow in autumn. The flowers are small and yellow, produced in large branched panicles 20–50 cm (8–20 in) long. The fruit is a three-lobed inflated papery capsule or ‘bladder’ 3–6 cm long, containing several hard nut-like seeds 5–10 mm diameter. In some areas, notably parts of eastern North America, they have become invasive. the variety K. paniculata ‘Fastigiata’ tends to be shorter than the species (5-10 metres tall) and has a narrow columnar shape.

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Uses: Koelreuteria are popularly grown as ornamental trees in temperate regions all across the world because of the aesthetic appeal of their flowers, leaves and seed pods. Koelreuteria are commonly used as focal points in landscape design.  Several cultivars have been selected for garden planting, including ‘Fastigiata’ with a narrow crown, and ‘September Gold’,  flowering in late summer. The seeds are edible when roasted, but are not commonly consumed. The variety K. paniculata ‘Fastigiata’ is a good choice for restricted spaces and excellent as a specimen tree in a park. The clusters of small yellow flowers which it produces in July and August are popular with bees and are followed by lantern-shaped fruits in the autumn.

Koelreutia paniculata 'Fastigiata' growing at Barcham Trees

Koelreutia paniculata ‘Fastigiata’ growing at Barcham Trees

 Growing conditions:  Koelreuteria grow in nutritionally poor soil including: clay, sand, well drained, alkaline, loam; they require full sun but not a lot of watering, with a moderate aerosol salt tolerance. They tolerate wind, air pollution, salt, heat, and drought and grow at a moderate rate, but are sometimes fast growers. Koelreuteria produce seeds that are blown away and get germinated and this might result in the growing of more trees next to the original one.’Fastigiata’ does best in dry, calcareous soils and in a reasonably sheltered position, such as an urban courtyard garden.

Fruit and flowers of K. paniculata

Fruit and flowers of K. paniculata

Further information:

Wikipedia- Koelreuteria

Wikipedia- Koelreuteria paniculata

Wikipedia- Kolreuteria bipinnata

RHS- Koelreuteria paniculata

Barcham Trees Directory- Koelreuteria paniculata

Barcham trees directory-  Koelreuteria paniculata ‘Fastigiata’

Old School Gardener

walnut tree in gardenThe Walnut tree genus (juglans) has 21 species, but there are two main species in common garden or landscape use; the Black Walnut (Juglans nigra) and English (or Common or Persian)Walnut (Juglans regia). I’ve recently written about the poison they both contain and what this means for growing other plants underneath or nearby.

Common name: ‘Walnut’  or Black/English/Common/Persian Walnut. The word walnut derives from the Germanic wal– and Old English wealhhnutu, literally “foreign nut”, wealh meaning “foreign”. The genus name “Juglans” comes from Latin jūglans, meaning ‘walnut, walnut tree’; jūglans in turn is a contraction of Jōvis glans, ‘nut of [the god] Jupiter’

1280px-WalnutsNative areas: The English Walnut (J. regia) originated in Persia, and the Black Walnut (J. nigra) is native to eastern North America.

Historical notes: The Black Walnut was introduced to Europe in 1629 from north America, whereas the English Walnut is thought to have been grown in Britian since Roman times. The worldwide production of walnuts has been increasing rapidly in recent years, with the largest increase coming from Asia. The husks of the black walnut Juglans nigra are used to make an ink for writing and drawing. Walnut ink has good archival properties, and was used by several great artists including Leonardo da Vinci and Rembrandt. Walnut husks are used as a brown dye for fabric. Walnut dyes were used in classical Rome and in medieval  Europe for dyeing hair. The U.S. Army used ground walnut shells for the cleaning of aviation parts because it was inexpensive and non-abrasive. However, an investigation of a fatal helicopter crash in 1982 (in Mannheim, Germany) revealed that walnut grit clogged an oil port, leading to the accident and to the discontinuation of walnut shells as a cleaning agent.

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Features: The Black Walnut is of high flavour, but due to its hard shell and poor hulling characteristics it is not grown commercially for nut production. The commercially produced walnut varieties are nearly all hybrids of the English Walnut.  Walnuts are late to grow leaves, typically not until more than halfway through the spring. The blossoms also normally appear in spring. The male cylindrical catkins are developed from leafless shoots from the past year; they are about 10 cm (3.9 in) in length and have a large number of little flowers. Female flowers appear in a cluster at the peak of the current year’s leafy shoots. Both main species contain a chemical called “juglone” which can be poisonous (or allelopathic) to other plants. This can be a particular issue for growing other plants underneath a Black Walnut.

Juglans_regia_-_Köhler–s_Medizinal-Pflanzen-081Uses: As garden trees, Walnuts have some drawbacks, in particular the falling nuts and the release of Juglone.However, they are grown and both species make a stately subject for parkland and avenue plantings, or as specimen trees where space allows. The English Walnut develops a broad crown at maturity (and a height of 15- 20 metres). It also has delightfully aromatic young foliage, from which a wine can be made, followed by a crop of delicious nuts. It is smooth barked when young. Both species are also grown for their timber. The Black Walnut is fast growing and was awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit in 2002. It can  reach 20 metres or more in height and makes a large tree with a pyramidal crown. It produces an abundance of nuts over a long period, but they are rather difficult to extract from their very hard shells. It is rough barked from a young age.

 Growing conditions: Walnuts are light-demanding species that benefit from protection from wind. Walnuts are also very hardy against drought. Walnuts grow on most soils but the English Walnut does not favour water logged conditions. The Black Walnut favours deep loam. Walnut trees are easily propagated from the nuts. Seedlings grow rapidly on good soils.

Further information:

Wikipedia- Walnut

Wikipedia – Juglans

GQT: Underneath the Walnut Tree- what to plant.

Barcham trees directory-  Juglans regia

Old School Gardener

ilex aquifoliumIlex, or the holly genus, is a genus of 400 to 600 species of flowering plants in the family Aquifoliaceae, and the only living genus in that family. The species are evergreen and deciduous trees, shrubs, and climbers from tropics to temperate zones worldwide. In Europe the genus is represented by a single species, the classically named holly, Ilex aquifolium.

ilex aquifolium botanicalCommon name: ‘Holly’  or ‘Common Holly’- the name “holly” in common speech refers to Ilex aquifolium, specifically stems with berries used in Christmas decoration. By extension, “holly” is also applied to the whole genus. The origin of the word “holly” is considered a reduced form of Old English hole(ġ)n, Middle English Holin, later Hollen.

Native areas: Ilex aquifolium is native to western and southern Europe, northwest Africa, and southwest Asia.

Historical notes: Ilex in Latin means the holm-oak or evergreen oak (Quercus ilex). Despite the Linnaean classification of Ilex as holly, as late as the 19th century in Britain, the term Ilex was still being applied to the oak as well as the holly – possibly due to the superficial similarity of the leaves.

Ilex aquifolium

Ilex aquifolium

Features: Holly is an evergreen, conical tree growing to 5-10 metres tall. The leaves are 5–12 cm long and 2–6 cm broad; they are evergreen, lasting about five years, and are dark green on the upper surface and lighter on the underside, oval, leathery, shiny, and about 5 to 9 cm long. In the young and in the lower limbs of mature trees, the leaves have three to five sharp spines on each side, pointing alternately upward and downward, while leaves of the upper branches in mature trees lack spines.

The flowers are white, four-lobed, and pollinated by bees. Holly is dioecious, meaning that there are male plants and female plants. The sex cannot be determined until the plants begin flowering, usually between 4 and 12 years of age. In male specimens, the flowers are yellowish and appear in axillary groups. In the female, flowers are isolated or in groups of three and are small and white or slightly pink, and consist of four petals and four sepals partially fused at the base. The ‘berry’ fruit is a red drupe, about 6–10 mm in diameter, a bright red or bright yellow, which matures around October or November.

Several varieties and clones are available with different features such as variegated foliage with creamy or pink tinged edges and different leaf shapes. Some of these are:

Ilex aquifolium ‘Alaska’– dark green foliage and bright red berries, can be grown as a standard/ specimen or screening.

Ilex aquifolium ‘Argentea Marginata’– with an Award of Garden Merit, this variety has spiny leaves edged with white and plenty of berries, young leaves tinged with pink.

Ilex aquifolium ‘J.C. Van Tol’– a self pollinating holly and possibly the best green-leaved holly available. Dark green almost sineless leaves witha good show of autumn berries. Also awarded an AGM, it is tolerant of shade.

Ilex aquifolium ‘Pyramidalis’– fast growing, self pollinating. Another AGM winner, it retains its pyramidal shape if pruned to retain it’s leader.

Ilex aquifolium ‘Silver Queen’– this is a dense small evergreen tree or shrub with purple young shoots and pink-tinged young leaves. Mature leaves spiny, dark green with a broad cream margin. Flowers small, white – this variety is, despite it’s name, a male!

Other Ilex varieties that are not part of the aquifolium species include:

Ilex castaneifolia– the ‘sweet chestnut leaved’ holly this is a fast grower, AGM awarded and produces a large tree of conical habit and has red berries in abundance.

Ilex x ‘Dragon Lady’– one of the Meserve Hybrid hollies this one has vivid green leaves and attractive spines that contrast well with the large red berries in the autumn.

Ilex x ‘Nellie Stevens’– this hybrid (of Ilex aquifolium and Ilex cornata) has smooth glossy leaves which contrast well with the orange-red berries.

Ilex x altaclarensis ‘Golden King’ – one of the best variegated hollies, this AGM winner is tolerant of coastal conditions, and is slow-growing. The opposite to the variety ‘Silver Queen’, this time, despite its name it is a female!

Uses:  One of the most evocative and best-loved of all trees; the Common holly is beautiful in its simplicity and brings cheer at the darkest time of the year. It provides year-round interest, but is particularly attractive in autumn and winter. great for gardens, it only retains its spiky leaves within the first ten – fifteen feet of height in the tree, as after this it suffers no predation so has no need of a thorny defence system! use as an under storey or edge fo woodland tree  (as here at Old School Garden), as a specimen (especially those with interesting foliage), for hedging/ screening or as a structural element in mixed borders to provide all-year round interest. Can also be topiarised to provide simple but effective shapes in formal settings.

 Growing conditions: Holly is very tolerant of shade and prefers well-drained soils.

Clipped hollies at Hatfield House, Hertfordshire

Clipped hollies at Hatfield House, Hertfordshire

Further information:

Wikipedia- Ilex

Wikipedia- Ilex aquifolium

RHS- Ilex aquifolium

RHS- Ilex aquifolium ‘Silver Queen’

Barcham trees directory- Ilex genus

7 plants for Winter Wonder

Old School Gardener

Picture from 'Voice in the Garden Blogspot'
Picture from ‘Voice in the Garden Blogspot’

In researching this article I’ve solved a little mystery. A couple of years ago I ‘liberated’ some curious looking fruits from a tree in a grand garden in Cornwall I was visiting. It was autumn and the leaves were a beautiful muted rusty golden colour. I couldn’t identify it at the time and the three fruits have been sitting on my desk ever since both intruiging and annoying me!

Well it turns out that they are the fruits of Davidia involucrata, better known as the ‘Paper Handkerchief’  or ‘Dove Tree’ because of its large white bracts enclosing the flower (and followed by the fruit). It looks like it may be a long and fiddly business to grow from seed, but I think I’ll have a go!

Common name: ‘Paper Handkerchief’ or ‘Dove’ Tree

Native areas: originally from damp woods in south West China, it is extremely endangered in the wild and also rare in cultivation.

Historical notes: discovered by Pere David in 1869 and introduced in 1904. It first flowered in 1911 on Veitch’s Coombe Wood nursery.

Features: a broadly conical, very beautiful tree that is (eventually) fast growing and of medium to large height, growing to 10-15 metres at maturity. However, it is difficult to grow from a young age and seems to thrive once it gets beyond 2-3 metres tall. Foliage and habit are similar to the Lime.The sharply toothed leaves are heart shaped to around 15 cms long, are pinkish in spring turning bright green above, densely hairy beneath in summer, then turn to gold in the autumn. The flowers are tiny but it is the large white flower bracts up to about 15 cms long that put on a great show in late spring. The fruits are rounded and green, up to 1.5 inches across, later ripening to brown (like the 3  I have here!). The attractive bark is orange brown and peels vertically in flakes.

Uses:  very good in parkland or as a specimen and does best in a sheltered position. Sometimes the cultivar ‘Vilmoriana’ is specified, but it appears to be very similar to the parent species.

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Growing conditions: Davidia grows best in a sheltered spot in deep fertile soil. It responds to light summer pruning. Growing tips can frost off if it is subjected to icy winds and invariably the best specimens are seen nestled away in a comfy sheltered spot. They also respond well to fertilizers with lots of potassium. They are best trained to a central leader when young with lower branches gradually removed. Propagation is from seed sown immediately upon ripening, germination can take up to 1.5 years but seedlings grow fast. It can also be grown from semi-ripe cuttings taken during late summer. Insect pest and disease problems rarely occur and are not serious.

Further information:

Wikipedia

RHS- Davidia involucrata

Barcham trees directory

Old School Gardener

carpinus betulus autumn colourThis is the third in my new series on garden trees. I’ve also done an article about trees and garden design.

Common name: Hornbeam

Native areas: The 30–40 species occur across much of the north temperate regions, including the U.K., with the greatest number of species in east Asia, particularly China. Only two species occur in Europe, and only one in eastern North America. 

Historical notes: Traditionally, the timber of hornbeams has been used to produce mallets, skittles and even the moving parts of pianos! The common English name of “hornbeam” derives from the hardness of the wood (likened to ‘horn’) and the Old English ‘beam’, a tree (similar to the German for tree, “Baum”).

Pleached trees- picture RHS
Pleached trees- picture RHS

Features: A large, deciduous tree (growing to 20 metres plus), with a grey-fluted trunk and spreading canopy. It has ovate, ribbed and serrated edge leaves that turn a beautiful clear yellow in autumn. The flowers are wind-pollinated pendulous catkins, produced in spring. The male and female flowers are on separate catkins, but on the same tree (i.e it is monoecious). The fruit is a small nut about 3–6 mm long, held in a leafy bract; the bract may be either trilobed or a simple oval, and is slightly asymmetrical.

Uses:  Wonderful in a parkland setting, grown in groups, it also ideal for pleaching (i.e. training into a ‘hedge on stilts’) and for use along the edges of smaller gardens – just like here at Old School Garden. Received the Award of Garden Merit from the RHS in 2002.  Some of the cultivars are suitable for smaller gardens as their growth habit is more columnar.

Some of the cultivars available include:

‘Fastigiata’– a tree of medium size (10-15 metres in height) and with a pyramidal habit, slender in its youth. Suitable for smaller areas despite developing ‘middle age spread’ (it can grow out to  1o metres wide). Very effective if left feathered at the base to encourage gold and orange autumn leaf colour. Stiffly ascending branches give it a columnar shape, resembling Lombardy Poplar.

‘Fastigiata Frans Fontaine’- selected from a street in the Netherlands in the 1980’s this retains its columnar habit better than the ordinary ‘Fastigiata’ variety (3 metres wide after 25 years) so is even better suited to restricted areas.

‘Purpurea’-  medium height (10-15 metres), introduced in the 1870’s , this is well suited to arboretums and plant collections. Young leaves flush with a purple tinge and then gradually turn deep green and them a similar yellow to the species hornbeam in  autumn. Slower growing and ultimately smaller than the species tree. Well suited to heavier soils.

”Japonica’-  (Japanese hornbeam), introduced from Japan in 1895, a small (5-10 metres tall), rounded tree, very effective if pleached. Darker than the species tree, with heavily corrugated leaves, darker than the species tree. Attractive, prolific hop-like fruit. AGM in 2002

Growing conditions: hornbeams grow well in most soils, including clay and chalk and is useful for planting where there are poor planting conditions.

 Further information:

Wikipedia

RHS- Carpinus betulus

RHS- pleaching

Barcham trees directory

Old School Gardener

mature betula pendula bartram treesThis is the second in my new series on garden trees. I’ll shortly be doing one or two articles about trees and garden design, in my series ‘Design my garden’, so keep an eye out.

Common name: Silver Birch

Native areas: Europe, though in southern Europe it is only found at higher altitudes

Historical notes: Also known as the ‘Lady of the woods’ because of its slender and graceful appearance. Especially popular in the UK. Grown as an ornamental plant and also for its timber. It is used for a range of purposes, from broom-making and steeple-chase fencing to medicines.

Features: A medium tree (15- 20 metres tall), with a conical, semi weeping habit, with white bark and horizontal lines and large diamond -shaped cracks which form as the tree matures. Leaves ovate, yellow in autumn. Flowers in catkins. Can be grown either as a single or multi-stemmed tree.

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Uses: Very good as a multi-stemmed tree for exposed or elevated positions as they have a low centre of gravity. These look good in small groups in informal settings. I have a few that contribute to a mixed ‘woodland edge’  here at Old School Garden, providing a natural boundary to the garden. It can also be used as a specimen, though some of the cultivars available perhaps provide more interesting features than the species plant:

‘Dalecarlica’ (Swedish Birch, syn. ‘Laciniata’ or ‘Crispa’)- deeply cut leaves which weep gracefully, white peeling bark

‘Fastigiata’- stiffly ascending branches give it a columnar shape, resembling Lombardy Poplar

‘Purpurea’ slow growing and rare, with new, dark purple leaves,softening t o dark green/purple by summer.

‘Tristis’- tall (15-20 metres), weeping birch, with beautiful winter structure.

‘Youngii’- similar habit to ‘Tristis’ but shorter (5-10 metres) and so more suitable for smaller gardens, especially good as a specimen  in lawns.

‘Zwisters Glory’- from Switzerland, this new variety has gleaming white bark, so makes a good avenue tree and a good choice for urban areas and is quick growing.

Two other species of birch are also worth mentioning:

Betula pubescens- ‘Common White Birch’, prefers damper conditions than B. pendula, also it’s more hardy. It’s ascending branches give it a more solid appearance than B. pendula.

Betula utilis ‘Jacquemontii’/ ‘Doorenbos’-a medium tree with ascending branches, most admired for its almost pure white bark, looking very effective against a dark background.

Growing conditions: grows well in most soils and is good for parks and woodland, but is not suitable for areas which have soil that becomes compacted. Difficult to transfer as a bare rooted specimen, but containerised plants are more successful.

Further information:

Wikipedia

RHS

Barcham trees directory

Silver Birch among others in the snow at Old School Garden, January 2013
Silver Birch among others in the snow at Old School Garden, January 2013

Old School Gardener

Yucca aloifolia flowers

Yucca aloifolia flowers

A genus of about 40 species of perennial evergreen shrubs or trees, Yucca is rosette-forming or woody- based and comes from hot, dry places such as deserts. sand dunes and plains in north and central America and the West Indies. It is also colloquially known in the Midwest United States as “ghosts in the graveyard”, as it is commonly found growing in rural graveyards and when in bloom the cluster of (usually pale) flowers on a thin stalk appear as floating apparitions. So striking are these flowers that early settlers of the south-western United States called them “Lamparas de Dios” or “Lanterns of God”. 

A member of the Agavae family, the yucca is closely related to the lily and has its origins in Mexico and Central America where it was prized by indigenous peoples for the medicinal and nutritional properties of the yucca flower.

North American natives, too, found the plant useful, using it to make clothing and soap (yucca roots are rich in saponins).

Cultivated for their bold, linear to lance shaped leaves and their erect (sometimes pendent) panicles of, usually white bell-shaped flowers. Many species also bear edible parts, including fruits, seeds,flowers, flowering stems and more rarely roots. References to yucca root as food often stem from confusion with the similarly pronounced, but botanically unrelated, yuca, also called cassava (Manihot esculenta).

They tolerate a range of conditions, but are best grown in full sun in subtropical or mild temperate areas. In gardening centres and horticultural catalogues they are usually grouped with other architectural plants such as Cordylines and Phormiums.

Joshua trees

(Yucca brevifolia) are protected by law in some American states. A permit is needed for wild collection. As a landscape plant, they can be killed by excessive water during their summer dormant phase, so are avoided by landscape contractors.

Several species of yucca can be grown outdoors in mild temperate climates where they are protected from frost. These include:-

Y. filamentosa

Y. flaccida

Y. gloriosa

y. recurvifolia

Yuccas are widely grown as architectural plants providing a dramatic accent to landscape design. They can be used as specimen plants in courtyards or borders and in frost prone areas can be grown in a cool or temperate greenhouse or conservatory. Pollination and proper yucca care are necessary for the formation of these flowers on indoor plants.

Be careful to site them away from paths or other places people could be scratched by their sharp leaves. Free-draining soil and sun is all yuccas require.They are fully frost hardy to frost tender and can be propagated by seed sown in spring. Rooted suckers can also be removed in spring and root cuttings can be taken in the autumn. They can be susceptible to leaf spot and aphid attack.

Yucca guatemalensis (syn Yucca elephantipes)

Yucca guatemalensis (syn Yucca elephantipes)

Further Information:

Wikipedia

Yucca filamentosa- RHS guide

How to Grow Yucca

Yucca Care

Yucca- Plant Encyclopedia

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