April 21, 2018

Garrya Elliptica – Colour in your Garden in January

garrya elliptica


How to grow garrya elliptica

Placement of garrya elliptica

The garrya elliptica bush is not fully frost hardy and maybe that is why it is not so common, however it will withstand temperatures down to -5o so it should overwinter well anywhere in the British Isles lower than Northumberland. Many advise to grow it next to a wall which will give it further protection and avoid the blackening of the leaves during a particularly fierce winter, but I find that they grow happily free standing without protection as the picture shows.

Pruning garrya elliptica

The bush can grow to 3m high, it can be pruned in early  summer to a much lower manageable height, but it dislikes hard pruning so do it with compassion!

Like most catkins they are unisexual and if you would like your Garrya to produce fruit (berries), you will need a separate male and a female plant, but as the berries are nothing special or if you only have room for one bush, make sure to buy a male variety as they are the ones that have the longer catkins.

garrya elliptica
garrya elliptica

Which garrya elliptica to buy?

The  Garrya is available from The RHS Plant Shop, or from J.Parkers and other specialist nurseries, otherwise try your hand at propagating it although it is not the easiest plant to propagate and that is why it carries a price tag of nearly £20 for a 2 litre pot!

As the photo above shows the common garden name is very fitting as the catkins hang down like tassels all over the bush. We are now just at the beginning of the season – with time they continue to grow even longer. The leaves are a lovely glossy green around 8 cm long but the catkins can easily reach 20cm, the variety ‘Evie’ is said to have tassels up to 30cm. The variety ‘Pat Ballard’ adds a tinge of purple to the normal grey green coloured catkins. ‘James Roof’ bears a RHS Award of garden merit.

The Garrya arranged in my vase reminds me of  the annual Amaranthus viridis (the green love lies bleeding ) which we struggle  to grow in our climate during the summer and here we have a parallel bush that grows so easily on its own!

Boris Legarni.

About The Author

Profile photo of Boris Legarni

Boris inherited his green fingers from his mother, who was still planting potatoes and rhubarb in the sixties as she was afraid that they would once again be rationed. As a teenager he used to plant radishes in the corner of the school garden and sell them during break time for sixpence, to give his classmates a healthy crunchy snack. He and his wife both have had an allotment for years, but there is no competition – he does the planting and she does the harvesting and cooking. With a passion for growing anything edible, Boris has planted dozens of named fruit trees in his orchard. Nevertheless he is an avid flower arranger, and assists local communities and charities with his flower arrangements. Boris tells us that after so many years on the allotment he has made all the mistakes possible, and he will share with you his practice to make yours perfect!

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