Plant Of The Sea­son

Euony­mus

This England - - Notes From A Cottage Garden -

There are many dif­fer­ent forms and names of this ver­sa­tile shrub/small tree. Euony­mus eu­ropaea is na­tive to Bri­tain and is known as the spin­dle tree be­cause its hard, dense wood was used to make the spin­dles for spin­ning. Its other names are prick­wood (be­cause it was used for tooth­picks) and skew­er­wood (be­cause the wood was made into butch­ers’ skew­ers).

Spin­dle trees grow eas­ily even in the poor­est of soils, but they do best in well drained con­di­tions in sun or par­tial shade where they can reach a height of more than eight me­tres. The tree pro­duces small whitish flow­ers that turn into dis­tinc­tive pink fruit, each hold­ing a bright-orange seed pod.

The fruit is toxic to hu­mans but is en­joyed by birds, par­tic­u­larly robins. The tree re­ally comes into its own in au­tumn when the leaves turn vi­brant shades of red.

In the gar­den euony­mus is usu­ally used in its more com­pact shrub form where it makes a colour­ful ad­di­tion to bor­ders. Most plants are slow grow­ing, but there are some va­ri­eties that will grow fast enough to even­tu­ally cover a wall.

nlike the spin­dle tree, euony­mus shrubs are usu­ally ever­green with striped yel­low and green or white and green leaves. They are very hardy and can with­stand most tem­per­a­tures. The plants will ap­pre­ci­ate a mulch in spring but oth­er­wise only need light prun­ing to keep in shape.

keep an eye out for any shoots that are dark green rather than var­ie­gated and cut these out. With so many va­ri­eties and sizes to choose from there is a euony­mus to suit most gar­dens I have E. for­tunei “Emer­ald Gai­ety” which has sil­ver and white leaves with pink edges next to E. for­tunei Emer­ald and Gold and they make a lovely con­trast to each other.

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