Two Euonymus sieboldianus are planted side by side in the Garden arising from two different collecting expeditions. They are deciduous branched shrubs covered in fruit; each plant having a different hue of fruit, glowing as the low sun sets. Both were collected in Honshu Province where the parent plants grew on Mount Hakusan (20031043) and Mount Akagi (20071451) .
Now that the foliage is clearing from the deciduous canopies the full beauty of the trunk of Acer pensylvanicum is revealed. This seedling is now eight years old; it has developed good striations vertically down the length of the trunk and around the branches. A mixture of white, green and grey shades are ideal as winter interest. Growing to 8 metres by 4 metres it will eventually form a sizeable specimen. It is a native of eastern N. America where it grows in association with Acer saccharum, Fagus grandifolia, Tsuga Canadensis.
Sorbus harrowiana is not the best specimen for displaying ornamental fruit but it does have a related back story. It is native to SW China where, as can be seen from the attached image, the leaf size is one of the largest of the genus; composed of up to four pairs of leaflets and one terminal leaflet. The fruits are small, white and borne sparsely on the corymb structure, when crushed these smell of fermenting apples. First collected in Yunnan Province in 1912 by George Forrest it was described by William Wright Smith, Regius Keeper. He named after Robert Harrow, curator at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 1902 – 1931.
Wrap up warmly and take the opportunity to appreciate the remainder of the autumn colour on the deciduous trees. The colder nights see the leaves dropping as the abscission layer breaks down. As the leaf falls a barrier has formed on the bud that prevents the ingress of disease and other pathogens into the living tissue, thus keeping the tree in good health. Two that have coloured and lasted this year were the Chinese Euonymus alatus and from eastern North America, the cut leaved Sumach, Rhus typhina ‘Laciniata’.
One of the Styrax officinalis plants growing at the west gate has produced several fruits. These hang elegantly from the previous season’s growth. The fruits resemble a grey ball with a stalk like appendage that is the remains of the style appearing from the top and the calyx enveloping the base. It is a native to the warmer climes of southern Europe and the Middle East. This probable explains the sparsity of fruit as the summer temperatures here did not match those of Anatolia where viable seed was collected from the parent plant.
Daphne gemmata, is compact, with an inflorescence of clear yellow flowers. This species, a native to SW China where it is found growing in sun, well drained, stony banks. Replicate these conditions in cultivation and this plant will grow to 1 metre in height and width. The flowers are scented and long lasting. Flowering at this time of year it will be interesting to see if a frost knocks them out and discolours the corolla. In the meantime a plant to be appreciated.
Growing on the tufa scree with roots into a well-drained substrate is Chaenorhinum origanifolium. This perennial from Southern Europe is flowering well into autumn from a summer start. The clumps of trailing shoots are covered in small purple, white marked, flowers.
The corolla has the typical open mouth of the Toadflax and Snapdragons, all in the family Scrophulariaceae. Or as we should now call it: Plantaginaceae when following the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group III (APG) system of classification.
The Clematis akebioides growing at the east gate lodge is covered in flower. The buds are held on long stalks setting the flower out from the straggly stems. Opening slightly yellow they turn a burnished brown complimenting the other autumnal colours in the garden. Collected in Yunnan province, SW China where it scrambles through shrubs reaching 3 metres in height. Deciduous foliage covers the untidy mass of tangled stems that work their way into and through any plant or supporting structure to aid support.
This week sees a second member of the genus Tricyrtis in flower. T. formosana, this species standing tall and making a show in the peat walls. A profusion of mottled purple flowers, which as the tepals drop leave the stigma prominent above the immature triangular seed pod. Growing to 1 metre plus and the thin stems supporting flowers and foliage. A native too Taiwan, it was seen growing at 2650m in a shady bank at the edge of degraded open woodland of Pinus taiwaniana.
Tricyrtis macrantha has the largest flowers of the genus; pendulous yellow tepals are stunning when shown well against the foliage. It is the inner corolla that adds interest, covered with brown freckles. The internal flower parts are robust and cling together with a crystal icing topping. Ideally planted to cascade over a wall or rock to allow the pendulous growth to be shown to full advantage. Native to Japan.