Something a Little Different!
Now is the time that some gardeners are looking at a space that they want to fill with a tree or shrub, something with good seasonal interest such as stem colour, foliage, flowers, edible or ornament fruit. Its not only the best time to really start noticing these plants, but it’s also a good time to plant them giving them time to settle in, go through winter dormancy and from spring burst into life again.
A beautiful and unusual slow growing shrub that will grow in most fertile soils is Euonymus phellomanus, also known as the Winged Spindle. Growing in sun or partial shade its one of those shrubs that doesn’t shout out in the garden for part of the year because its flowers are small and relatively insignificant, although I always notice them, but from September onwards all that changes. Those small greenish yellow flowers become amazing colourful lobed inedible fruits that hang like pretty jewels, splitting to reveal a bright red juicy berry that will hang from the centre. The show doesn’t finish there because apart from watching the birds eating the fruit the leaves will turn a fiery red in autumn before shedding and exposing its chunky winged branches.
Another attractive tree is a Lime called Tilia cordata ‘Winter Orange’. This can be grown as a small and compact tree with orange-red branches and rounded mid green foliage. It will grow in most soils and to maintain its interesting winter colour its best to hard prune it in early April to maintain those colourful branches, the size and shape. The bees will love it too!
Another wonderful plant even though it is a little fussy about its soil type is Cercidiphyllum japonicum, also known as the Katsura Tree. It prefers neutral to acid soils in sun or partial shade. Its mid-green heart shaped leaves not only change to beautiful autumnal shades that vary from one tree to another, but as the leaves die they give off an aroma of burned sugar. Another great plant to tantalise the senses!