Self explanatory title I think.
In this episode of Plants in focus we will look at a plant from the genus Spiraea. This is a genus of approximately 80-100 species of shrubs mostly that are from the Rosaceae family. They are native to the Northern Hemisphere and the majority can be found in Asia. Most are hardy deciduous shrubs. Leaves are simple and arranged in an alternating spiral pattern. Most species have lanceolate leaves(long and narrow) and the margins are usually toothed, sometimes cut or lobed. The flowers are clustered together in inflorescences, mostly in dense panicles, umbrella like corymbs.
Spiraea cantoniensis is a deciduous or sometimes semi-evergreen shrub with showy clusters of white flowers in the middle of spring. They don’t last long but the effect of massed flowers is quite spectacular. Small rose like flowers have 5 or many more petals and they are borne in round clusters(corymbs) about 5-6cm in diameter.
S. cantoniensis is native to China in the province of Jiangxi and has been widely cultivated elsewhere in China and Japan for many centuries. Jiangxi is located in the southeast of the country and the name is derived from the circuit administrated under the Tang Dynasty in 733. Jiangnanxidao, Circuit of Western Jiangnan. The Gan river dominates this province flowing through its entire length. The Gan enters Lake Poyang in the north(largest freshwater lake in China) and in turn empties into the Yangtze River. Climate is humid subtropical with short cool winters and hot humid summers. Annual rainfall is 1200 to 1900mm which may equate to why rice is the dominant crop in this province. There are more than 2000 species of woody plants here as well. The ancient Ginkgo also makes its home here.
See above how the plant has a nice arching effect. This plant is also known as ‘Reeves spirea and bridal wreath and May bush, although many people will automatically call a Spiraea a may bush, it may not really be known as one. Again, the need for scientific names is critical. The name ‘May Bush’ relates to the fact that it flowers in the month of May in the Northen Hemisphere. Usually late September and October and early November in the Southern Hemisphere.
This Spiraea will generally grow to about 1.5 x 1.5 metres with arching reddish-brown stems and green lanceolate toothed leaves to about 3-5cm long. The leaves will turn yellow in Autumn but sometimes they will persist. This plant will grow in sun or part shade in most soil types and doesn’t mind a bit of neglect now and then. Best if left unpruned if possible because this keeps its natural mound of gracefully arching stems. Frost and drought tolerant and best in a mixed shrub border or as a specimen plant or even a hedge would look stunning.
Another view of the arching stems, magnificent!
Last but not least. Enjoy!
Today we will look at a flowering cherry in my garden. Flowering cherries are from the Rosaceae family and the genus Prunus comprises some 400 species found growing naturally in the Northern Hemisphere. Prunus is the genus where all of the stone fruits are found which provides us with all the lovely edible fruits found worldwide on people’s tables and kitchens. These can also be found in all types of food production including pies, preserves, jams, drinks and many more both in commercial and domestic kitchens. Cherries can be found growing in Europe, Asia and North America.
The Japanese flowering cherries have long been collected and propagated on the many isolated islands of Japan and because of the Japanese language-spoken or visually presented this has complicated the many different varieties for non-Japanese speaking gardeners. Many people have tried to document the countless different varieties of cherries and Roland M Jefferson has endeavoured many times to document and organise the world literature and put together living collections of cherries, so as to limit the confusion with names. To understand this we need to look at the history of cherries in Japan. We can see in the literature that a lot of cherries that escaped from cultivation in Japan are progeny of species planted in mountainous areas for the purpose of ‘Cherry viewing’ which is a favourite pastime in Japan and still is. This started over 1200 years ago. There are references to cherries being planted in Japanese gardens before 794 A.D. as well. So one can see with this timeframe that natural and assisted hybridisation would have taken place many times, and many people would have introduced different cherries frequently, some would have been lost then reintroduced, renamed and so it goes on.
Prunus ‘Amanogawa’ is an ideal tree for small spaces and gardens, it is columnar in habit and rarely exceeds 2 metres in width and reaching a height of approximately 5 metres at about 20 years old. The leaves are mid green and serrated and have a slight copper colour to them when young. They turn red and gold colours in Autumn. Buds are pink and open to large flowers that are semi-double, soft pink in colour and borne in dense clusters. They will fade slightly to white.
Apparently the flowers are slightly fragrant, but I haven’t noticed them yet. This tree is adaptable to a wide range of conditions but will prefer a moist well-drained soil in full to part shade. I have noticed 2 different translations of the name ‘Amanogawa’ which are celestial river and ‘Milky way galaxy” or ‘River of the sky’. Not sure how accurate these are, so I will leave them alone(see note above about naming cherries). This tree was first mentioned in 1886 in a list of trees that were planted along the Arakawa River near Tokyo. This river is one of the main rivers flowing through Tokyo. It originates on Mount Kobushi in the Saitamam Prefecture and it empties into the Tokyo Bay. Some interesting facts of this river is that its 173km long and the widest part of it is 2,537 metres wide, yes that’s 2.5km and the drainage basin covers 2,940 square Kilometres.
This cherry is also referred to as one of the Sato-zakura Group. Sato-zakura translates as Village cherries which are cherries that are cultivated and not wild species. Village cherries refers to the fact that hybridisation has been going on for centuries in Japanese gardens and villages. The term Sato-zakura is used in England to describe cultivated Japanese cherries and many authors from Japan have done the same since the 19 hundreds. This term complies with the cultivated code and is now established in the literature. It has no taxonomic or botanical significance. Its only used to indicate Japanese cherries of uncertain pedigrees.
In the above and below photo’s you can see the pink blush and the clusters of flowers.
Below you can see it rising above the garden bed majestically
And one more for good measure
The other day i heard a great way to remember which way to adjust our clocks when day light savings starts or finishes. It’s so simple and no doubt popular, but i had never heard it before. It goes like this, “Spring into Spring and Fall back in Autumn. Of course springing forward in Spring and falling back in the Fall/Autumn, easy! Clocks forward in Spring, clocks back in Autumn. Since its spring time, here are a few plants springing forward with exuberance.
This message will self destruct in 10 seconds……….
Since spring is upon us and that roses will be taking centre stage very soon, I thought I would put the spotlight on this quite interesting rose. It has some very interesting attributes and if you don’t like prickles look away very soon. Another reason I thought we would look at this beauty is because I see its starting to flower.
A most interesting rose that hails from South western and central China in the provinces of Gansu, Guizhou, Hubei, Ningxia, Qinghai, Shaanxi, Sichuan, Xizang and Yunnan. It grows in Abies forests, thickets, scrub, pasture, hillsides and slopes at altitudes between 700-4000m. It is a shrub that can grow to 4m tall, in cultivation it normally gets to 2-3m tall. Shrub is usually very spiny and this trait gives it a common name of ‘Winged thorn Rose’. The thorns on new growth are quite spectacular in the sense they are bright red and somewhat translucent when the sun shines through them. As they age they harden and turn brown. They can be quite large as you will see in the photo’s below.
Notice above that not only does this rose have huge prickles it also has small spines. Note also the leaves which can be 3-6cm long and also have 5-13 leaflets with a serrated margin. This one has 9 leaflets. These leaves give this rose a ferny appearance as well and they are deciduous, giving a nice yellow/red colour in Autumn. See below more examples of the prickles and note their size!
Here’s one with my fingers so you can compare their size.
The Flowers are unusual as well because they only have 4 petals and this is the only rose known for this. Flowers are white and are 2.5-3.5cm in diameter. This rose flowers early in spring and I find its normally the first of my roses to come into flower and it can be fleeting. The flowers are followed by small round hips which are red.
There are 4 different forms of this rose which are R. omeiensis f. omeiensis, R. omeiensis f. glandulosa, R. omeiensis f. paucijuga and of course R. omeiensis f. pteracantha which was discovered by Rehder and E.H.Wilson in 1915. I tried to find out about the name of this rose with not much sucess but what I think I could deduce is that ‘pter’ or ‘ptera’ is something that is winged and in this case it definetily has large thorns that look a bit like wings. Part of omeiensis could be where this rose is found at Mount Emei(omei) in the province of Sichuan. Mt Emei sits at the western end of the Sichuan basin and stands at 3099m near the town of Emeishan City. There have been roughly 200 plant species from various plant families described from Mt Emei. The root bark from this rose is used for tanning, the bark contains about 16% tannin. The hips are also sweet and edible and used medicinally and to ferment wine as well.
If you have the room, this is an outstanding rose to have as a focal/talking point in the garden. In my experience with this rose it is best given plenty of room and doesn’t seem to like being crowded. Best left unpruned and only get rid of deadwood as needed. Make sure you use gloves if you are removing any deadwood or working near it or you will regret it. A jumper helps as well! Not really worth growing just for the flowers although they are unique, the standout feature of this rose is its Thorns.
and watch those fingers!