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.”
October 2020 has, as its Plant of the Month, Tilia mongolica. This is of the family Malvaceae and originates in China and Mongolia. It is rarely grown in gardens but is shown here in the Lovell Quinta Arboretum in its autumn colours. It grows up to 12m in height with a spread of 8m. It can be planted in any aspect and almost any moist, free-draining soil. It has fragrant flowers and winged seeds.
The Plant of the Month for August 2020 is Weigela ‘Red Prince’ of the family Caprifoliaceae (the honeysuckle family). It is a hardy, deciduous shrub and is a good all-rounder. It will grow on most soils and in exposed or sheltered positions and flowers in the Arboretum through much of the summer, growing to height of about 2.5m. It is good for feeding pollinating insects.
The genus Weigela honours Christian Weigel (1748-1831) who was a professor at the University of Greifswald in Germany.
The Plant of the Month for July 2020 is Colutea arborescens, the Bladder Senna. It is a leguminous shrub that has bladder-like seed pods at this time of year. The specimen in the Arboretum is young but the shrub will grow up to 4m in 10-20 years. It likes full sun and is hardy in all of the UK.