Chinese Plants with Nicky

Chinese Plants with Nicky

I can't pretend I'm enamoured with this time of year; the nights are drawing in and the clocks go back at the end of the month.

Cornwall is not known for its autumn colour (not cold enough at night and too windy) but at Trebah we have a stunning plant that can lift even my seasonally affected mood! Clerodendrum trichotomum var. fargesii has the most extraordinary electric blue berries surrounded by bright maroon calyxes.

I've read that in China it is fairly common in roadside scrub and once again confirmed the fact that China, as Ernest Wilson described, is the Mother of all Gardens.

China is one of the most plant diverse countries in the world with close to 30,000 species of flowering plants. Many plants in China survived the last Ice Age, when glaciation wiped out similar flora in N America and Europe.

In the mid 19th century following the end of hostilities between Britain and China, the more relaxed attitude of the Chinese authorities allowed Europeans to travel and trade in their country.

Ernest Wilson (1876-1930) was employed by Veitch's Nursery (of Exeter & Chelsea) and was one of the most successful of all plant hunters. He made four expeditions to China and introduced over 1000 plants to British gardens.

We now share a similar climate to areas of China and there are few gardens in the UK that do not contain at least one plant of Chinese origin. Needless to say, there are all the diverse Camellias, Rhododendrons and Bamboos from China at Trebah but look out for the wonderful Paperbark Maple with peeling cinnamon-red bark that shines in the autumn sun, the Katsura Tree whose leaves smell of burnt sugar as they fall and the Dawn Redwood with light green ferny foliage turning russet brown.

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