Plant of the Month by Martin Fish
Through winter, evergreens are great for adding colour and structure to our gardens and one such shrub is Garrya elliptica. Not only does it have attractive dark green, leathery leaves that look good all year round, in late winter it produces long, silvery-green catkin-like flowers. Several forms are available, but one of the best with long flowers up to 20cm (8in) long is Garrya elliptica ‘James Roof’.
Also known the “Silk tassel bush”, Garrya can be grown either as a free-standing multi-stemmed shrub or as a small tree with a single trunk. When grown this way, it can reach a height and spread of around 4m (13ft) and makes an impressive specimen, especially when the tassels are hanging from late January until March.
Alternatively, where space is limited, garrya grows well against a wall or fence, in sun or shade. If fan trained and tied to support wires or a trellis, it makes an attractive feature. To keep it contained and flat to the wall, trim back the old flowering stems in spring each year. It’s on the new growth that the flowers will develop in winter.
Martin Fish is a gardening columnist, broadcaster, speaker, RHS judge and all-round horticulture expert. He writes for publications including Garden Answers, Kitchen Garden and Which? Gardening.
We have worked with Martin closely over a number of years and each month he will be choosing a favourite Plant of the Month for us, with tips and advice for planting and growing in the garden.