Autumn Shrubs..beautiful discoveries
I would take a guess and say that all of us still remember the story of the “ugly duckling” written by Hans Christian Andersen. It was not one of my favourites, I was always upset for that little fluff ball. And even though “all’s well that ends well” I couldn’t help, but feel a little disappointed with the events of the story.
Fast forward to now, and I still get this feeling sometimes, at work, looking at my “ugly ducklings”, knowing in my head how beautiful they will be, but struggling to showcase this to the customers. So today I am going to advertise mad, for some of my four rare beauties autumn shrubs that need to be noticed and appreciated.
Today I will tell you their little stories.
(1) Psoralea Pinnata
Psoralea pinnata came to us all the way from South Africa and is doing really well on Irish soil.
Commonly known as the Fountain Bush, Psoralea is a tall evergreen shrub or a small tree that can reach up to 12 feet in height. Most of the year its feathery, dark green foliage on long, slim branches is all there is on offer.
However, come Autumn and the plant transforms with masses of delicate, pea-like blue, white and purple sweetly scented flowers. I have seen this in action last season, and I have to say, it is so worth the wait.
Adding the fact that she will grow very happily in moist soil, semi-shade without too much maintenance and it does sound like a perfect fit into most gardens.
(2) Katsura Tree
Let us stay with the Autumn colour for my second “duckling”- the Katsura Tree or Cercidiphyllum japonicum. Every year we sell hundreds of trees, be it the offer of 10, or singly, depending on the need. But this tree is often passed by without a second glance. And I can not understand why.
Hardy, easy-going, and tall enough to give great coverage are some of its pluses. Small, pear-shaped green leaves create a delicate look with sun penetrating easily through the foliage. And then comes Autumn. The colours change, from yellow and caramel, through pink, purple, and red. And what a stunning sight it becomes. The sight that is most sought after in our tree queries.
So next time you are on the lookout for a feature tree, please, trust me on it – the Katsura tree should be on your list to consider.
(2) Chilean Guava
Combining looks, rarity and edibility are what I strive to do well. And with this beauty, I struck gold, or so I would like to think.
Chilean Guava is an evergreen shrub with small, waxy foliage. It will reach 4 feet in height and similar in width. The advice is to grow it in full sun or semi-shade, in well-drained but moist soil. To be honest, it does nothing much at first glance, even if I can see this. Things change though when blooms start to appear. If you close your eyes and bring yourself somewhere toward the warm, Mediterranean climate imagine the smells that might surround you.
Sweet, delicate, mouth-watering, fruity, and fresh at the same time. And now imagine you can have that smell combined with a stunning look of those blooms here, in Ireland, in your own garden. Not to mention the small, round, shiny red fruit that follows.
Ugni molinae, as this is the proper name, has to be one of the easiest to care for, can even be grown in a large container, is pest and disease free, and is very versatile in the garden. The fruit is so tasty, that it became a firm favourite with Queen Victoria, so we really can’t turn our noses up at that. And we shouldn’t either because I think it’s great to have something different to showcase in the garden.
The best of my Autumn Shrubs saved for last…..
I have left my newest discovery for last, as I am still learning about it myself.
It got pointed out to me by a sound gentleman visiting the garden centre last week. So you see, even I am guilty of passing plants without a second thought. Once I started reading though I got really excited because it seems I have a little rare gem on my hands, especially for all of you who love flower arranging.
(4) Ruscus hypophyllum
Ruscus hypophyllum is an evergreen shrub with dark green, flat leaves on rigid stems. Those stems are widely used in bouquets and other floral creations. The plant itself will grow to about 2 feet in height, spreads well through rhizomes underground. In addition, it does not need much attention.
When I had a closer look at my own specimens I realised they could be ideal to use as an evergreen formal border, or instead of low topiary plants as it seems easy to shape and form. Imagine being able to add one more plant one can use all year round. One more plant that could also become a topic of conversation with other fellow gardeners.
One has already sold since last week and is getting accustomed to my own garden. However, I do have a few more to spare, so pop in and have a look. And I am delighted to say I have learned something new that day, so thank you very much, I hope you are reading it now 😉
The ugly ducklings become beautiful Autum Shrubs…..
All four of my “ugly ducklings” i.e. my autumn shrubs are here now. I am sure we can all agree they are not ugly anymore. They just need to be looked at, researched, and carefully planted within the existing garden to compliment them, where they can have the time to come out of their shells. They just need to be given a second thought.
Magda O’ Byrne