Whilst many of our favourite plants shout for our attention throughout the year some sit quietly in our gardens for most of the year with an air of modesty. They block unsightly views, they fill corners, they provide an evergreen background to more colourful cousins, they can filter out the noise and all without demanding much in return… until their one subtle moment of glory.
Garrya Elliptica is one such; given its head and allowed to grow to its full size it can be magnificent in the cold days of late winter. To often it isn’t allowed to stretch its limbs to a graceful rounded large shrub and is hacked back rather than sympathetically pruned. Left alone though the flower display is stunning.
Philip Read, plant area manager at Podington Garden centre is a fan though and describes the ‘Silk tassel bush’ as arguably one of the finest winter garden plants.
“Its catkins remain draped over the evergreen grey underside sea-green leaves, opening from their budded stage in November and December through to the yellowish and dusty beige-grey of mid-spring. You need the male selection of the plant to get the biggest and best catkins, the best-known form is ‘James Roof’ the catkins have a real grace and beauty. James Roof is often written about as having the longest catkins, (30cm), but the form sold at Podington is known as ‘male select’”
A mature shrub has a real presence in the garden at this time of year and is wonderful to see with its catkins dripping from every branch. If you can find the room in your garden it is well worth the space for the unexpected pleasure it gives in these cold days.