Hidden Gems

Hidden Gems

Many plants control when they flower to coincide with particular seasons by responding to length of day, a process called photoperiodism.

Spring is, without doubt, the most popular time for many plants to flower - they can take advantage of (hopefully) lots of sunlight and rain to reproduce, plenty of insects around to pollinate and still have time to spend the summer making seeds.

Trebah, of course, is no exception to the above rule with the massed display of Rhododendrons, Camellias and Magnolias in March, April and May.

Then we come to June and early July! We are still waiting for our 2-acre planting of Hydrangeas to come fully into flower but in the meantime, there are some hidden gems coming to the fore at Trebah.

Stuartia, a lesser-known member of the Tea family (as are Camellias) is a native to eastern Asia and is found mainly in open woodland in Japan. It has a 4-6 wk flowering period of single creamy-white camellia-like blossoms with bright yellow anthers. Stuartia sinensis, discovered by Ernest Wilson in China in 1901, has beautiful smooth bark and can produce brilliant dark red autumn colours. Also at Trebah, we have Stuartia pseudocamellia and S. monodelpha.

The Snowbell Tree (Styrax obassia) has to be viewed from underneath to get full view of the cascades of pretty bell-shaped white flowers in late June and July.

The Dogwoods are now flowering: Cornus capitata - a plantsman's choice - elegant large evergreen shrubs or small trees with button like flower heads surrounded by creamy bracts precede strawberry-shaped fruits (edible but not delectable, unless you are a grey squirrel!). Cornus x Norman Hadden is semi-evergreen and produces masses of persistent bracts, which turn a pretty shade of pink.

I'd like to put in a plug here for one of my all-time favourite plants; Cornus alternifolia 'Argentea', grown for the exquisite variegation of its foliage. It forms tiers of horizontally spreading branches with green leaves brightly edged with creamy-white. We have an up-and-coming specimen near Alice's Seat, which will look gorgeous as it matures.

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