A plant species I mostly find boring is Cotoneaster. They are one of the most commonly overused group of plants seen as groundcovers, hedges and often in utility mass plantings. Some Cotoneasters are beautiful in their own right. The Willowleaf cotoneaster (Cotoneaster salicifolius var. floccosus) is such a plant that is stunning in the correct setting. In Victoria this location would be at Government House.
The most fantastic view from the building is out the of the ballroom overlooking a steep slope called the Ballroom Terrace Garden.
Most of the year these Willowleaf Cotoneasters are merely a green backdrop which other more delicate plantings are the highlights. It is true that these Conoteasters have masses of cream 5 petal flowers in May-June, but no one is likely to notice with the abundance of other plants at their peak of show.
It is later when the garden goes dormant and the days are gray that a person sees these plants in their glory, in full fruit with their glossy roughly textured dark green willow-shaped leaves undamaged by the worst of winter weather.
The only damage is a slight wine tinge to the leaves and deepening of the berry color which is typical for this plant.
Indeed the berries are the glory of this shrub and set it apart from others at this time of the year. The berries are dense and seem to stay firmly on the bush. After the storms I saw little evidence of many on the ground. Branches of this small tree would make an attractive addition to decorate inside I think.
it is unfortunate the place you are likely to see this plant is in an apartment complex where it often is dwarfed by the building and never pruned to show what a lovely form it can have. As you can see it forms a small multi trunk tree or shrub which grows to no more than 4 M. (12ft.) which would be on the tall side, and a spread of up to 3M (10ft). Willowleaf Cotoneaster has an arching habit of growth.
Cotoneasters are unfussy plants to grow, they prefer well drain, loose soil. They are their best in full sun so they can produce the best crops of flowers and berries later. It has a fairly rapid rate of growth at 60 to 90cm(12-18in.) per year and is easily pruned to keep it in shape and size. It grows in plant zones 6 though 8 and tolerates low temperature of -20c(-4F).
A steep slope is an excellent use of this type of plant. Another site might be along the edge of a of shrub border or where an area is more natural or in a mixed shrub border where the berries will shine in the winter months. Cotoneasters are often used in mass plantings which when maintained properly are effective.
I would suggest choosing carefully when getting one of these plants as they vary in quantity of berries, some have fewer. It might be a good idea to buy in the fall when you will see what kind of crop is produced. If you want to grow one for yourself I would suggest taking a cutting from a bush you know produces lots of berries. Softwood cuttings are taken in during the first flush of growth or slightly later on non blooming wood.
Links for this Week:
Cotoneaster salicifolius, this is a simple site with straight forward information.
Taking cutting, a how to site which is easy to understand.
Government House, scroll down for a description of the ‘ Terrace Gardens’
Until we meet again next week.