Flower of the week from YOUR garden to YOUR table: 14th Nov. – 21st Nov.
Botanical Name: Mahonia Japonica. Common Name : Mahonia.
I spent a few days visiting my sister in London this week and I felt strongly England’s North South divide. Not from a financial aspect as it is often declared, but from a gardener’s point of view. The trees on my road in Manchester have nearly all shed their leaves and those that haven’t yet fallen, look as if they have no more strength to stay on much longer, whilst the London streets are still lined with trees bearing proud green leaves -especially the Acer, variety London Plane with their large fingered maple leaves clinging strongly to their silver trunk. The temperature is inevitably always a few degrees more, down south and that makes all the difference. On returning back to my allotment in the north and seeing the beauftiful mahonia japonica with its yellow fragrant flowers I felt better. Although most flowers are induced by warm temperatures these yellow fragrant flowers seem to only appear after a cold break, and that makes us Northerners love our ever changing climate – colder as it maybe. Mahonia leaves strongly resemble prickly holly leaves and it is therefore an appropriate time to put it on my table as an introduction to the forthcoming festive season, so I put on my gardening gloves and cut a stem for indoor decoration.
How to grow Mahonia Japonica
Mahonia is a shrub that used to be more popular but is mostly only seen today in large gardens that can afford it adequate space. However, although it can grow to 2.5m, it does not have to be left to reach that height. I have one in my allotment that I trim annually; it is as tough as boots and recovers from my pruning shears putting on a good display every year. I always leave a few stems and my bush is always around 1m in diameter and 1.5m high. This also allows me to see and smell the flowers instead of having them above my head! The plant is evergreen giving all round colour, the only drawback being its spiky leaves. The Yellow arching flowers are born from November through the winter, the variety Charity bears even wider flower spikes.
Cutting Mahonia Flowers for Indoor Decoration
There is no need to add greenery to the vase as the Mahonia has it all. As the picture shows just one stem will fill a vase. A lovely rosette of leaves topped with the spikes of yellow flowers. Word of warning – the spikes are very sharp, unless you can hold it by the flowers always handle with gloves!