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Archive for the ‘Shrubs’ Category

Eriobotya in bloom_Winter fragrance has to be the icing on the cake for this gorgeous shrub. I wrote a post some while back about all year round scent and I was scratching my head for plants that would perfume the air in early winter. Clusters of these creamy white blooms have appeared all over what is now a small-ish tree in my back garden, supplying an intoxicating, very sweet, honey-ish, mellow fragrance that I imagine could perfume a high quality soap! I can’t remember if there was such an abundance of blossom last November, and maybe this year’s wealth of flowers is due to our hot summer. Fruit develops over winter, ripening in early summer, but again, I can’t recall seeing a really ripe fruit to try one, or did the squirrels manage (as ever) to get there before me? I must be more vigilant next year.

Erriobotya,  in bloom 3Also known as a Loquat or Japanese Medlar,  Eriobotyra japonica can easily be pruned to keep it as a large shrub and it’s a plant I see in many gardens (front and back) where I live in North London. Universally described as architectural, its multi stemmed form creates a generous, wide canopy, with its large glossy leaves hanging candelabra-esque at the end of the branches, giving a fantastic evergreen structure.

Erriobotya, underside of leavesOn late summer evenings, the velvety, paler underside of the leaves magically seem to catch the last rays of the day, providing another reason (should I need one) why this shrub/tree is greatly cherished in my N.London back garden.

P.S.

A few people have asked how hardy this plant is in the UK. Good question!

Architectural Plants say on their website that this plant is hardy in the home counties. I spoke to the lovely people at Big Plant Nursery, who said that it was a really hardy plant, but avoid planting in exposed sites and possibly wrap up smaller plants in cold weather until the plant is well established. It’s also supplied by Victoriana Nusery in Kent and the Palm centre in Richmond in London. If you do grow Eriobotrya japonica outside the home counties in the UK, do let me know!

P. P.S

Loquat and almond cakeNow in June, and my loquat tree has produced a good crop of fruits. This is a most tasty loquat and almond cake (from a Diana Henry recipe)!

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Pittosporum illiciodes v. angustifolium

I’m a big fan of the Pittosporum genus and was delighted to find such a gorgeous airy specimen two years ago at the RHS spring show on the Crug Farm stand.

Pittosporum illiciodes var angustifolium

I bought this evergreen shrub to screen my compost bin, and although it’s a little slower than I had imagined, it’s still coming along nicely. This spidery Pittosporum will grow in sun or part shade, with its leaves elongating in more shadier spots, and it also has, yet to be seen, small yellow flowers. To be honest, it’s getting a bit more shade than I originally planned for, as I’ve let a Clematis montana scramble up into a nearby small apple tree and it’s blocking out a fair amount of light. So as soon as the horizontal sleety/snowy rain is over, I might venture out to carefully start untangling the climber from the tree.

Pittosporum tennuifolium flowers

Not far away is a Pittosporum tennuifolium, merrily romping away (well over 6 ft and still growing) in a dryish shady spot under another apple tree. Last April I was stopped in my tracks by the scent from its tiny black flowers, and I’m eager to see, when my P. illiciodes does flower, if the tiny yellow blooms will also pack a punch.

Snowdrops on Avon Bulbs Stand

So if you’re on the lookout for some unusual shrubs or want to stock up on spring-flowering bulbs and perennials, The RHS London plant and design show is fast approaching again (19th and 20th February), where Crug Farm, Avon Bulbs (above) and many other nurseries will be exhibiting and selling many a tempting plant. After such a damp and miserable winter, I’ll definitely be making the trip for a joyful taste of things to come.

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Camelia sasanqua

I’m not a great Camellia fan. I find their dark evergreen foliage can be relentlessly gloomy, especially in our winter months. But when you’re greeted in a garden by these playful blooms, you can’t help but feel uplifted. I’m strangely enchanted by their offbeat flappy petals and their in-your-face winter colour. And when the sun does shine, they have a gentle, slightly cloying (heading towards mothballs) scent, which is no doubt great for early pollinators.

Camellia sasanqua flower after the snow in January

A week later, and these brilliant blooms haven’t survived the snow,

Camellia sasanqua flower opening in January

but new buds have toughed it out, and are ready to put on a show once more. And despite myself, I’m finding it difficult not to love ‘em.

Here’s a great article by Noel Kingsbury on how and where to grow Camellia sasanqua, with a helpful list of Camellia nurseries too.

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