Plant of the Month Archives 2019

Cornus mas - S. Turner

March 2019

Cornus mas

C. mas is one of the Cornaceae (dogwood) family). It produces dainty sprays of up to 25 four-petalled flowers in little yellow puffs, all along its leafless twigs. Because of the hardness of its dense wood the ancient Greeks used it to make spears and arrows. The common name, cornelian cherry, comes from the Latin ‘cornu’ meaning ‘horn’. It is known that 7,000 years ago the cherry-like fruits were a food source in Greece, and they are still used in spirits distillation throughout the range of the tree from Belgium to the Caucasus.
C. mas has been in cultivation in Britain since the mid 16th century, when one was recorded at Hampton Court Palace. Several cultivars hold the Award of Garden Merit of the Royal Horticultural Society. In SBG the species grows on the perimeter path, west of the Long Border (Area T) and near the Brocco Bank gate (Area E).

Lonicera x purpusii 'Winter Beauty' - K. Keeton

February 2019

Lonicera x purpusii 'Winter Beauty'

The winter flowering honeysuckles (Lonicera) are planted throughout the Gardens, and the ones near the Grand Entrance, (area D on downloadable map), are flowering well. The honeysuckle family is a genus of about 180 deciduous and sometimes evergreen species of bushy or climbing shrubs. They were named by Linnaeus after Lonizer, a German naturalist of the 16th century.
L. x purpusii 'Winter Beauty' is a spreading, semi-evergreen shrub, a cross between L. fragrantissima and L. standishii. Both were discovered by Robert Fortune, the intrepid Scot, during his travels in China in 1845. The very free-flowering 'Winter Beauty' form, was raised by Hillier Nurseries from a cross made in 1966. This particular form, produces fragrant cream-coloured flowers, often flowering from early December until April. The flowers themselves are really quite insignificant, but the power of the perfume is delightful!!

Sophora microphylla ‘Sun King’ - S. Turner

January 2019

Sophora microphylla 'Sun King'

This large bushy shrub has responded to the hot summer by flowering very profusely. The fine evergreen foliage with up to 40 leaflets on each 6in pinnate leaf provide a good foil for the bright yellow, pea-like flowers. These persist for many weeks. This cultivar was selected by John Hillier at his arboretum in 1982 from material brought from Chile, and subsequently widely marketed protected by Plant Breeders' Rights. It holds the prestigious Award of Garden Merit of the Royal Horticultural Society.
But amongst the 50 species of Sophora (in the Legumuminosae family) there has been some confusion and reclassification, and in recent years it has been convincingly demonstrated that the plant S. microphylla 'Sun King' is in fact a hybrid between S.cassioides and S. macrocarpa (both Chilean). S. microphylla is from New Zealand.
The shrub thrives against the wall in Osborn's Field (Area J) near the Austrian pine.

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