November 2020 – Embothrium coccineum var. lanceolatum ‘Norquinco Valley’

The plant of the month is Embothrium occineum var. lanceolatum ‘Norquinco Valley’ with autumn colour in Heather Turner’s garden in Timperley taken November 9th 2020. 

 Heather writes: “I purchased my Embothrium plus another as 18” high plants from the nursery at Kildrummy Castle Gardens, Alford, Aberdeenshire around 1985.  I planted one on the west side of my north-facing back garden, the other on the east side intending to move them to a more permanent position -but didn’t. The plant facing west survived and liked my free draining, sandy loam soil which is slightly acidic. When the pond was installed in 2005 the overflow was nearby so growth accelerated to about 25 feet. 

“Embothrium is the national flower of Chile and a member of the Proteaceae. with narrow lanceolate leaves and a blazing red bonfire in late May. Some years are better than other but this year my tree was spectacular. In autumn it keeps its leaves for several months, long after other trees are bare and can be semi-evergreen.

“Plants are in limited supply but can be obtained from various nurseries. They are quickly snapped up and you may need to pre-order. Be prepared for failure as Embothrium are temperamental but given the right conditions will thrive. Seeds are also obtainable from several suppliers. The seeds germinate but it is growing them past this stage that is the problem.  A healthy plant can suddenly fail as a friend who is an experienced propagator found. It is an ongoing challenge and a standing joke between us!

“Incidentally Kildrummy Castle Gardens are well worth visiting if you are in the north east of Scotland but check opening times in advance as they can vary.”