Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Have I got the bottle?

A few posts back I said that I didn't get sentimental about plants. I'd better cross reference that or readers will quote my words back to me when I admit that I'm agonising over removing the bottlebrush that's growing on the front wall of my house in Nottingham. This is a plant of Callistemon citrinus and growing is perhaps an exaggeration, as surviving is a better description of its current state. I planted this probably ten years ago and admit its a totally inappropriate place as it faces north. It was the only empty spot at the time - lame excuse, I know! Despite this, the said plant is now about 1.5m high and has during some summers flowered spasmodically. It survived the cold winter of 2010/2011 but did not flower last summer and I'm unsure that its going to do much  this year. In a small garden, every plant has to perform well and this is a key spot right next to the front door. So I guess its got to go but when a plant has stoically struggled against the conditions I imposed on it, I feel guilty for consigning it to the local authority shredder!

Callistemon citrinus - the offending non-performer

So what should I replace it with? Any new plant needs to have a narrow habit as its a tight slot between the door and the front window, must tolerate heavy clay soil and look good for a long season. Maybe this is the spot for a wall shrub and a slender climber? I rather like Fatshedera lizei 'Anniemieke' for its wonderful brazen gold foliage, but its habit is poor and it would need a support of some sort and constant tying in. Hedera 'Sulphur Heart' (syn 'Paddy's Pride') is another similar favourite but I snobbishly feel its become rather commonplace.
X Fatshedera lizei 'Anniemieke'
Possibly I could run a slender clematis through it, maybe something pale blue like 'Cezanne'. It is not a vigorous grower but has a long flowering season. But again a north wall is not ideal for clematis so I may be repeating the problem.

Clematis 'Cezanne'

Another possibility would be Hydrangea serrata 'Miranda', the variegated form of climbing hydrangea. Hopefully this form would be slower than the normal green one and not swamp the allocated space. But does it flower as well? I admit I've only ever seen young plants in garden centres.

Hydrangea serrata 'Miranda'
Then there is the postman who likes to walk across the front garden, so maybe I'll plant a nice prickly Rubus cockburnianus 'Golden Vale' to deter him. Not a serious suggestion, but a factor in the equation - plants to survive the postman's boots!

But I have just just bought a plant of Sinocalycanthus raulstonii 'Hartlage Wine' and I wonder if this might be the spot for it. Books suggest it tolerates some shade so maybe this is it! I'll continue to ponder on this and see if I've got the 'bottle' to dig out the bottlebrush. If anyone has any other ideas or comments, do suggest!

Sinocalycanthus raulstonii 'Hartlage Wine'


  1. It's quite a prominent spot where your Callistemon is. The climbing Hydrangea looks good and so does that Clematis. You're right about the Fatsehedera, it is lovely but will need to be tied up periodically.

  2. The choices are not bad, either. But I like that bottlebrush...but if you remove it, of course I vote for the X Fatshedera lizei 'Anniemieke'!

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