Garden Bloggers’ Foliage Day – April 2017

It is very much spring now. We have had the snowdrops, aconites and many other early spring bulbs. The tulips have been and still are splendid but some are beginning to fade. We have had some very warm days and the new foliage is bursting out everywhere and its sensational. Everywhere you go at this stage in the growing year fresh leaves are opening up giving clean fresh colours after the dormant buds of winter. This blog is looking at some of the foliage currently in Glebe House Garden.

This is Philadelphus coronarius Aureus which has changed in a couple of weeks from a bundle of dry looking sticks to a golden display.

Ferns are unfolding leaves in their spectacular way. Unless you look every day you will miss the leaves as they unfold.

New rose leaves often give strong coloured displays. Here are three roses in very different stages of development. Rosa omeiensis pteracantha had grown to about seven metres high and had out grown its space. We cut it right down to ground level last autumn and are now being rewarded by some beautiful new shoots. Rosa Irene Watts was rejuvenated a year ago February when it was also cut down to within a couple of centimetres of the ground. Last year it started new growth which was pruned to shape in the winter and now is looking very healthy. Rosa Pink Gruss an Aachen is a new rose that has been planted next to the water feature by the main lawn. 17_04_19_5309Some of the smaller plants are also putting on a spring display. Euphorbia myrsinites is technically in flower but the effect is a foliage delight.17_04_19_5311And similarly Euphorbia griffithii Dixter is in flower but look at the leaves which are green stained with red giving a huge pallet of colour.

I blogged about this pleached lime hedge.  It is now coming into leaf.17_04_19_5319This cardoon Cynara cardunculus has come from nowhere in a week!

Hostas are coming up everywhere if the slugs and snails will let them. To avoid too much damage to the leaves you need to control the slugs and snails before the leaves come out so it is worth trying to remember where you have Hostas planted.17_04_19_5312Fatsia japonica never really loses its leaves but in spring the new growth is refreshing and very architectural.

Itea ilicifolia only drops a few leaves in the winter and these pictures show the quality of foliage that has come through the winter. 17_04_19_5310Aruncus dioicus is an herbaceous plant that is cut down in the winter and is now coming back quickly for a summer display.17_04_19_5297These Betula ermanii were planted a few years ago in groups of three which will eventually grow together. When they were planted the bark was a bronze brown colour but as they grow they are developing a warm silver bark. These have been jet washed to maximise their colour.

Variegated foliage is always worth thinking about when planting shrubs

and dark foliage should also be considered.

Cornus alternifolia Argentea eventually should grow into a reasonable sized tree. For some reason it has been very slow to get going but the structure and leaves are very nice.17_04_19_5318Another flash of gold from Sambucus racemosa Sutherland Gold 

Do have a look at Christina of My Hesperides Garden where she encourages us to look at the foliage in our garden rather than focusing on the flowers on the 22nd of each month. You will find links to other participating gardens there. Thank you Christina for hosting this meme.

Gardening Hours
This week Total since June 19th Average per week
30 751 17
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Itea ilicifolia “holly-leaved sweet spire”: a shrub for all seasons

As spring progresses I thought I would profile a plant seldom seen but definitely worth considering,  Itea ilicifolia also called “Holly-leaved sweet spire”.16_08_07_3126Itea belongs to the Grossulariaceae to which Escallonia and Ribes also belong. There are fifteen species of Itea – fourteen from East Asia and one deciduous species from North America – Itea virginica. They are useful shade loving shrubs or small trees.

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Itea on 7th August

Itea ilicifolia as its name suggests has holly-like leaves. They are dark glossy green. The flowers are produced in abundance in narrow, pendulous, catkin-like racemes, up to 12″ (30cm) long. The flowers are tiny and densely packed; greenish-white in colour; and fragrant – a hint of honey scent. Flowering starts in mid summer and will continue well into autumn.

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Itea on July 16th prior to flowering

Itea ilicifolia was introduced by Augustine Henry from Yichang on the Yangtze in central China, in a package to Lord Kesteven who flowered it first in 1895. Bean mentions that the earlier introductions needed wall shelter at Kew. Whether more recent acquisitions such as the Ernest Wilson’s collection, are from a higher altitude, or whether global warming is being demonstrated here, as Itea ilicifolia is becoming a plant more of borders than needing wall protection nowadays. Wall shelter is nevertheless advised in colder and/or exposed situations in eastern counties. 16_08_07_3121Rather lax in habit, Itea ilicifolia is most often grown and trained against a wall where the reflected heat encourages more flowers and better growth, although in warmer parts of the U.K., Itea ilicifolia grows to be a striking standalone plant.

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Itea on 25th January 2017

Summer cuttings of the current years shoots can be taken about July or early August and placed in a sandy open compost in a cool frame – minimum 5° (40°F), damp, and in a well lit atmosphere, should root overwinter. It is widely available from nurseries.

An alternative would be Garrya elliptica the silk tassel bush17_01_25_4682There is no doubt that Garrya can make a striking small bush and also has similar tassels.17_01_25_4683However when grown against a wall and requiring pruning to shape I fine the tassels are considerably reduced in numbers.17_01_25_4684Furthermore the leaves are not as clean and glossy. The main advantage of Garrya elliptica over Itea ilicifolia is that it will cope with north facing walls.