Sunday, 8 December 2013

Midwinter Fire


Last week's garden club speaker bought a touch of winter warmth and magic with him as well as providing me with some unexpected but welcome propagation material. The subject was gardening for winter interest and our guest came complete not only with slides but with a wealth of neatly labelled plant material from his garden. If the talk had been in January or February there would have been a wider range for us to see close hand but the examples of trees, shrubs and perennials on display were still considerable.

At the end of the evening our speaker left all the plant material behind and we were invited to take anything we would like home. I left with three samples which I hope to propagate. At the top of this post is the a stem of the multi-coloured cornus sanguinea 'Midwinter Fire'. This throws out attractive stems of red, orange and yellow in the winter border. Now is the time to take hardwood cuttings of cornuses. I also have a red stemmed cornus (name long gone) which I intend to take cuttings off, which hopefully will make their way to the allotment, where we are planting up the area around the composting toilet building. Any surplus prunings will come in handy as plant supports on my own plot.


Also returning with me along with my seasonal mince pie were berries from sorbus 'Joseph Rock'. I've been reading a lot about sorbuses recently in blogland and am tempted to plant one. I've been slightly put off though by mention in one book that the flowers of sorbus trees often smell like rotting meat - uuuuugh! Further investigation is required and feedback from anybody who grows sorbus would be welcome. In the meantime I thought that I would just have some fun to see what might transpire from the seed.


Last but not least a solitary cutting from the attractive evergreen pittosporum tenuifolium 'Irene Paterson'. She is evergreen and forms a shimmering mound about three feet high. I see snowdrops and hellebores at her feet. I'm not really convinced that the snipping I have will root so have decided that I will be on the lookout for a ready made Irene in the near future.

Our speaker also came with a list of all the plants of winter interest in his garden plus his collection of books on the subject, which included some familiar friends from my bookshelf. I will share these books in a future post.

21 comments:

  1. Well they all look wonderful. I'm all for adding interest to the garden in winter, though I'd rather do that without having to put up with the smell of rotting meat. I would think it's only the odd one or two varieties, if any, or else surely no one would want to grow them.

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  2. Good luck with the propagating. Love the colour of that cornus.

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    1. Thanks Jessica. Will be keeping fingers crossed that it roots.

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  3. That's quite a nice touch, the speaker bringing some material to try. Haven't noticed any bad smells from our Sorbus when in bloom.

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    1. Yes it certainly supplements the slides and gives you a great opportunity to see the plants in real life as it were. Thanks for your feedback on the subject of smelly sorbuses :)

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  4. That Cornus is just wonderful for winter colour. Sorbus 'Joseph Rock 'is my favourite rowan. The flowers do smell a bit rank so perhaps not a good idea to plant it too near the house. But the flowers don't last long and the berries are fabulous.
    Chloris

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    1. Ah thanks very much Chloris for a most vital piece of information. Luckily the intended destination is a good way from the house so it will not be a issue :)

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  5. You have picked your cuttings well, Anna. My Midwinter Fire is only tiny but even so it is very striking and a lovely thing to have in view from the house. And I have been enchanted by Joseph Rock on other's blogs, but don't think I should introduce another tree to the garden ;) Not sure about the pittosporum with those variegated leaves - I think I would have to see the shimmering mound! Hope your cuttings take. How often does your garden group meet?

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    1. We were spoilt for choice Cathy but did not want to be greedy. Hard to tell sometimes with variegated leaves but the foliage of this particular pittosporum is very subtle. I think that I will like Irene. Our gardening club meets once a month.

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  6. There are some sorbus trees (don't know exactly which ones, but possibly aucuparia and aria) down near our river and they do have a certain smell, but not entirely unpleasant. The blossom is gorgeous though.

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    1. Ooooh - do you know what Cathy I had given much thought to foliage, berries, possible aroma but had not for once considered flowers, so your comment about the blossom is most welcome information.

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  7. Good luck with the 'Winter Fire' I wish I had somewhere moist enough to grow one!

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    1. Thanks Christina and my sympathies. No problem with moisture in north west England :)

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  8. Hi Anna, I look forward to your succcess with the propagation of Midwinter Fire. I've the second lot going now in the greenhouse, not one rooted last time although all the other varieties did. Midwinter is my favourite though, especially in the snow.

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    1. Thanks for those good wishes Annette - let's hope that it takes. How strange that you did not have any joy with 'Midwinter Fire' when the other varieties struck. Hope that your second batch takes.

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  9. That Cornus cam so highly recommended when I did my shrub post it's in my garden notebook and will be one of the first plants we'll buy for any new garden. I haven't got a sorbus in the garden but there are lots around us and I can't say I have smelt anything untoward but it might wise to check. I collected some sorbus berries about 3 years ago and extracted the seeds. I now have a baby sorbus about 2ft tall.

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    1. You have given me a most timely reminder WW to revisit your shrub post :) So pleased that 'Midwinter Fire' was recommended with such glowing colours. Look forward to seeing yours when it's planted in that new garden. Encouraged to read that your baby sorbus sounds as if it is making good growth. Wonder when you will see the first berries.

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  10. Rotting meat?! Goodness, never come across that - and my sorbus aucuparia certainly didn't have a naff niff. I can only hope that my new one doesn't either, eek, I only considered flowers and berries!! I love Midwinter Fire, though I only have a baby one so it will be while before I have enough materiall for cuttings. What a lovely way to illustrate a talk, and one has to love a freebie of plant propagating material. Were there any unseemly arguments, any elbow employment, when your group chose cutting material at the end?!

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  11. Hi Anna, Cornus stems are reputed to be the easiest of cuttings to root; just make a diagonal cut about a half-inch above the top stem node and same below the bottom node, leaving a good piece in the middle. Pop into some soil in a pot and leave until spring. You should be able to see roots by March/April and plant into the garden. I love that Pittosporum, they're one of my favourite shrubs and a delight in any garden; if it mounds naturally, it will be a joy of low maintenance gardening! And definitely go for the Sorbus. There's a hupehensis at Capel with the most gorgeous pink berries in the autumn, a real delight to look at!

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  12. Hi Anna I have 3 sorbus and 2 across the road from me and it's only when you're up close that there's a slight smell like that. You wouldn't notice it in the garden - only the flies that pollinate the tree will. I also grow MidwinterFire and it's easy to propagate though I find up here in Scotland it's liable to burn at the tips in cold weather.

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All your comments are much appreciated and treasured. I wil try to reply to everyone who leaves a comment, but it may take me a few days, especially when I start spending more time in the garden and at the lottie. I know that you will understand :) I am sure that I will also visit your blog if I have not already done so. If you have any specific questions I will either reply to them here or you can email me at : thegreentapestry@gmail.com

Namasté

- Anna.