Viburnum dripping with berries

Viburnum betulifolium dripping with berries. Image ©GardenPhotos.comIt’s amazing what you find on a short walk round a good garden. Just ten minutes after finding the two witch hazels at the Royal Horticultural Society garden at Wisley, and before spotting the Winter weirdness in the banana border I came across this stunning viburnum. It’s an old favorite but still rarely seen – Viburnum betulifolium (left, click to enlarge). I remember seeing this at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew decades ago and it made a lasting impression.

As you can see, it’s the shining red fruits that are so eye-catching. The picture was taken about three weeks ago, in early February, and those fruits had been gleaming for months; they first show their color in September! They may only be 1/4in/6mm long but they hang in such prodigious numbers that they weigh down the branches. Of course, the birds will take them in the end.

This magnificent display of translucent berries like redcurrants follows the flat heads of creamy white flowers in late spring and early summer. Have to say, though, it does make a substantial shrub: 5m/16ft, too big for some gardens. It’s happy in sun or partial shade in any reasonable soil and is hardy to USDA Zone 6, RHS H6.

Introduced into North America in 1901 by China by E. H. Wilson, it was also collected more recently by Bleddyn and Sue Wynn-Jones of Britain's Crûg Farm Plants, their plant is called ‘Hohuanshan’ and has foliage which opens bronze. Junker's Nursery, also in Britain, has one called 'Aurantiacum' with orange berries which was originally reported from China in 1928. I’m tempted to fly back to England specially to get it. The Flora of China emphasizes how variable this species is in the wild; plenty of scope for more introductions.

Just one thing: It’s often said that two or three different plants are needed to ensure good pollination but there are also reports of single plants fruiting well. Perhaps some forms are more simply fertile than others.

Now that the ghastly hedge of Leyland cypress in our British garden is almost gone, this plant is high on the list to go along that boundary.  And perhaps the orange-berried one, and perhaps the Crûg Farm one as well. Steady… steady… Better not get carried away. On the other hand…

Take a look at this Botany Photo Of The Day entry for more on Viburnum betulifolium.

Plants are available in Britain from these RHS Plant Finder nurseries

Plants are hard to find in North America, but you can order seed from Sheffield’s Seeds

Witch hazel mystery solved?

Hamamelis x intermedia 'Pallida'(above) and its impostor 'Moonlight'. Images ©GardenPhotos.comA combination of an enjoyable winter walk at the Royal Horticultural Society garden at Wisley in Surrey and a quick check in the relevant monograph looks to have solved the mystery of the Asian witch hazel in our Pennsylvania garden.

The problem is that the plant of Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Pallida’ we bought from White Flower Farm in Connecticut back in 2007 retains most of its old dry brown leaves through the winter and into flowering time – which ruins the display. And 'Pallida' is not supposed to do that.

But at Wisley, on one side of the path near the lake, was H. x intermedia ‘Pallida’, looking lovely with not one crusty old leaf interrupting the view of the flowers. And right there on the other side of the path was another witch hazel in pretty much the same color, with rows and rows of leaves along the branches completely ruining the effect. It was labeled ‘Moonlight’. You can see both in the picture (click to enlarge).

So, as soon as I got back, I looked up ‘Moonlight’ in Chris Lane’s excellent monograph Witch Hazels (out of print, but still available on and also available on And there I found the answer. This is what he says about it: “This selection is not widely grown any more, as it has the habit of retaining dead leaves during the winter… In the past, it has been sold as H. x intermedia ‘Pallida’  both in the United Kingdom and… also in North America.”

So it looks as if White Flower Farm sold me the impostor, ‘Moonlight’, instead of the true ‘Pallida’ – and, if I’m feeling sufficiently infuriated, I have to take the kitchen scissors and snip off every old leaf before the flowers open. Not fun. The plant has now reached almost 3m/10ft high and wide and it’s supposed to be a glorious spectacle. But, unless I snip off all those ***** leaves, it’s more of an eyesore. But at least I know what it is - though that's little comfort.

White Flower Farm no longer sell Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Pallida’.

Scented roses for Britain and North America

Fragrant English Roses from David Austin that thrive in the USA and the UK. Images © David Austin Roses
We all like scent in our roses, and many of us insist on it. But scent is a subtle and sometimes precarious feature: we all perceive smells slightly differently, it varies with the time of day, and it varies with the weather and the climate. Some say it even varies with the soil.

And scent is one of the three factors that legendary rose breeder David Austin had in mind when he created his English Roses: scent and old fashioned flower form and a long season of flower. The very first English Rose, with its scent of myrrh and introduced in 1961, was ‘Constance Spry’ (although this one missed out on the long season) and they’ve been coming ever since. I’ve been growing them since Mary Rose (‘Ausmary’) and Graham Thomas (‘Ausmas’) were new in 1983. Now there are so many that they’ve been divided into seven sub groups.

But not all will thrive in every garden. This was made clear to me when I took a look at the lists of English Roses recommended for their fragrance – for North America and for Britain. Some of the top choices for fragrance appear on both lists, but not all. And considering the extraordinary range of growing conditions in North America if, after being thoroughly tested, an English Rose was chosen by David Austin himself to thrive both in North America and in Britain, then it must be worth growing pretty much anywhere.

These are the English Roses recommended for fragrance on both sides of the Atlantic. And of the huge number introduced over the years - there are only nine.

Evelyn (‘Aussaucer’) Apricot and pink flowers with fragrance similar to old rose with a fruity note reminiscent of fresh peaches and apricots.

Gertrude Jekyll (‘Ausbord’) Large, rosettes of rich glowing pink. A strong and perfectly balanced old rose scent.

Golden Celebration (‘Ausgold’) Giant, cup-shaped golden yellow flowers with a tea scent.

Harlow Carr (‘Aushouse’) Shallow cups of the purest rose pink with a strong old rose fragrance.

Jude the Obscure (‘Ausjo’) Apricot yellow flowers with a very strong, unusual and delicious fragrance with a fruity note

Lady Emma Hamilton (‘Ausbrother’) Tangerine orange flowers with a strong, delicious, fruity fragrance.

Scepter'd Isle (‘Ausland’) Soft pink flowers, an outstanding example of the English Rose fragrance.

Sharifa Asma (‘Ausreef’) Pale pink flowers with a distinctive and very beautiful fruity fragrance with aspects of mulberry and grapes.

The Generous Gardener (‘Ausdrawn’) Very pale pink flowers with a delicious mix of old rose, musk and myrrh fragrances.

Order the most fragrant English Roses for North America from David Austin Roses.

Order the most fragrant English Roses for Britain and Ireland from David Austin Roses.

All images © David Austin Roses.

Burning bush: fall foliage for cutting

Gladioli, amaranth and burning bush at Rachel's wedding. Image ©GardenPhotos.comHad a jolly time at my niece’s wedding on Saturday up in Woodstock, New York (where the festival famously wasn’t) and, as ever, spotted something of horticultural interest. The bold floral displays at the ceremony featured gladioli in autumnal orange with purple amaranthus and all backed by – burning bush, Euonymus alatus. Click the image to enlarge it and see the foliage more clearly.

It’s not often that we see Euonymus alatus used as cut foliage. It makes a spectacular feature in the landscape with its brilliant fall color and is also being mentioned as a worrying invasive. But not many people have the bright idea of using it for cutting. And one of the appealing things about it is that the older leaves color first so that at along one branch the foliage color changes from purple-tinted green at the tips to puce or brilliant scarlet at the base and this creates possibilities of harmonies with a range of colors.

Fall color on two plants of Euonymus alatus maturing at different times. Image ©GardenPhotos.comA feature worth keeping in mind is that many of the plants we grow are seedlings, so no two are exactly the same. The result is that different individual plants reach the peak of their fall color at different times. The foliage from two plants growing side by side in our Pennsylvania garden (right, click to enlarge) shows one at peak of color and one still some way off. This is a great advantage for cutting as it ensures that material is available over a longer period but in the garden, and especially when grown as an informal hedge, a mix of brilliant red and almost green foliage is much less effective than a continuous dazzle of scarlet.

Then, of course, there’s the issue of invasiveness. It grows naturally in China and Japan but planting burning bush is banned in Massachusetts and the plant is cited as invasive in Connecticut but I don't think it will ever be the menace of plants like Japanese knotweed because the deer eat it. The plants in the unfenced part of our garden ahave been eaten bare to about 5ft//1.5m and seedlings never grow more than a few inches before being eaten.

But, if you’d rather be cautious, there’s the varieties ‘Rudy Haag’ and Little Moses (‘Odom’) which set almost no seeds so are far less likely to spread. But, for cutting, they have the disadvantage of being dwarf and slow growing, as do most of the other named sorts including ‘Compactus’, ‘Fire Ball’ and ‘Timber Creek’.

Euonymus alatus fruits and autumn foliage. Image ©GardenPhotos.comBut burning bush has two other attractive features, both more noticeable when stems are cut for the arrangements and after the leaves have finally fallen. The winged stems of mature branches are a striking feature and while ‘Blade Runner’ has broader wings than other varieties var. apterus and ‘Compactus’ are less noticeably winged. And then there are those reddish purple fruits which split to reveal orange seeds. They last well and line the branches in winter.

I couldn’t find any info on how to treat cut burning bush stems to ensure they last as long as possible in the vase. My usual bible on cutting woody material is the invaluable Woody Cut Stems For Growers and Florists by Lane Greer and John M. Dole (available from and from but it concentrates on evergreen Euonymus species. So if anyone has any thoughts on how to ensure the fall foliage of Euonymus alatus lasts well in the vase, please post a comment.

Hedgerow harvest

CrataegusMonogyna700Back in England for unexpected short visit (family funeral), I took a stroll this morning along the River Nene not far from our house in Northamptonshire. It’s striking how few wild flowers there are in flower along roadsides and footpaths here compared with Pennsylvania but the hedgerow harvest is in full swing.

Rose hips and hawthorn berries are dripping from the hedgerows, pyracanthas and cotoneaster lean over garden fences so we must step aside as we walk by.

There were so many hawthorn berries weighing down the branches that I was able to pick some clusters to add to my daily fruit smoothie and still leave more than enough for the birds. Hawthorn berries (Crataegus monogyna - left, click to enlarge), it turns out, have high levels of Vitamin C: about 30-40mg per 100g compared with about 50mg per 100gm for oranges. But the Vitamin C content of hawthorns varies not only between different species, but also between different individual plants of the same species.

But as well as Vitamin C hawthorn also contains useful antioxidants and I’ve also discovered that hawthorn is also combined with ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) to improve memory, by improving the blood supply to the brain. I could definitely use that!

The best source of Vitamin C by far is rose hips, which can contain as much fifty (yes, FIFTY) times as much Vitamin C as oranges, in the Second World War hips of Rosa canina and other wild species were collected from British hedgerows for exactly this reason. But, again, it depends on the species or variety.

Shipovnik-vitaminnyj-vnivi-500The Russian rose variety ‘Vitaminnyj-VNIVI’ (right, click to enlarge) has the most Vitamin C, and is reckoned to contain up to 2500mg per 100g of fruit. A Russian website where this variety is on sale tells me (translation by Google): “Ripen in late August, stay long on the bush and do not crumble to full maturity. The fruits are large, round-oval, 3-5 pieces brushes in the brush. Peel the orange-red, medium thickness, without pubescence. Sour-sweet taste. Yields of 2 kg per bush.” Apparently it’s a hybrid between “rose cinnamon and roses Webb”. Hmmm… You can read more here.

It would be great if this variety was available in the west.

Book Review: Trees and shrubs - a new edition of the essential reference

Hillier ManualOf Trees and Shrubs - new edition now outThe classic British* reference book on trees, shrubs and climbers is The Hillier Manual of Trees and Shrubs. My copy sits with a small and very select group of references just to left of my computer monitor; I probably use it every day.

Now, a new revised edition of this classic has been released by the Royal Horticultural Society, twelve years after the last edition. It has been significantly updated and expanded to include an amazing total of 13,215 individual plants (plus 3,258 cross-references and synonyms) from 706 genera; 1,490 plants have been added to those in the previous edition and this confirms the book’s status as the essential reference on woody plants for British gardeners.

As you can tell, it’s comprehensive. I’ve only failed to find one shrub I’ve looked up over the last few months and believe me I check on some pretty unusual plants. Another thing is that, as with my Encyclopedia of Perennials, the descriptions are written in accessible language – you don’t need to be a professional botanist to understand what’s being said. So no words like “bipinnatifid” and “orbicular” except where absolutely necessary (and of course there’s an easy glossary).

Wherever possible the text notes when species were introduced to western gardens, who discovered them in the wild and who introduced or developed cultivars and other interesting snippets of information. I’m pleased to see that plants which have been awarded the Royal Horticultural Society’s prestigious Award of Garden Merit (AGM) are marked but plants are not given hardiness ratings – not the USDA ratings nor the new RHS ratings. I’m told that the RHS hardiness ratings will added in a future edition.

This medium format book has no colour pictures, and so is priced at under £20 for almost 600 pages of the highest quality information. And it’s worth mentioning that commenters on are comparing the book unfavourably with previous editions because there are no colour pictures. But as far as I’m aware the Hillier Manual never had colour pictures; they’re confusing it with the old, extremely outdated and much less useful Hillier Colour Dictionary of Trees and Shrubs and Hillier Gardener's Guide to Trees and Shrubs which included many colour pictures – but covered far far fewer plants.

And, as Roy Lancaster says in his preface: “Even without illustrations, it offers a window on the wonderful world of woody plants to be seen, admired, cherished and ultimately enjoyed.”

But one thing that disappoints me. Bamboos are included, over thirty pages of Rhododendron hybrids are included, there are seven pages of Clematis hybrids – but only ten pages of roses, and none of the huge number of hybrid roses that are so widely available. Considering that in much of the country it’s impossible even to grow rhododendrons (because they need acid soil), to include so many seems perverse when at the same time excluding roses – which anyone anywhere can grow.

The RHS tell me that this is a matter if history - Hillier Nurseries, who developed the original manual in 1971, were never big on roses - and also that modern rose introductions disappear so quickly it would be impossible to keep the book current. My view is that while roses may not have been important to Hillier Nurseries, they're very important to gardeners and including old roses, or AGM roses, at the very least, would have been very helpful.

Finally, let me mention the book’s stout binding (although it’s a paperback it should last like a hardback), its clear typography and layout, and its valuable updated lists of plants for purposes. Excellent.

In all, this is an essential reference, with far more information for your money than any other guide to trees and shrubs.

* I should make clear that, while the book is intended for British gardeners, serious enthusiasts for shrubs in North America and around the world will find plants and information included that are in no other reasonably priced guides – or, in many cases, in any other guides at all.

The Hillier Manual of Trees and Shrubs is published by the Royal Horticultural Society.


Intriguing recent plant discoveries

Asclepias tuberosus (butterfly weed) with golden leaves. Image ©GardenPhotos.comMaking the hour’s drive back and forth to my cardiac rehab three times a week, and often walking woodland trails on the other days, I’ve spotted some interesting plants along the way.

A couple of years ago I wrote about a yellow-leaved form of common milkweed, Asclepias syriaca, which I spotted growing by the side of the road and last week in a quiet area at the back of the radiology unit (yes, I was just poking around…)  I found a yellow-leaved plant of a different Asclepias species – A. tuberosa, butterfly weed. As you can see (left, click to enlarge) it looks very dramatic and doing very nicely amongst the crown vetch (Coronilla varia).

There were also normal green-leaved plants scattered about the area, which had clearly been disturbed during construction work so we’ll see if that coloring was the freak result of something nasty in the soil or a genuine mutation. I’ll stop back later in the summer for another look.

A white-flowered form of wild bergamot, Monarda fistulosa. Image ©GardenPhotos.comWhite flowered monarda

Just at the moment our local wild bergamot, Monarda fistulosa, is in full flower. This seems to be a “first respondent” if you like, one of those plants that quickly arrives in freshly disturbed soil on open sunny sites. It occurs as a few plants or in huge drifts which, when you look closely, include an occasional plant with darker, or paler flowers.

But this week I screeched to a halt as I spotted a plant - just one - with white flowers (abiove right, click to enlarge). It turned out not to be the white flowered species M. clinopodia (which has a few purple spots on the flowers), but a genuine white-flowered form of M. fistulosa (wild bergamot). There were only a few plants in that location, but I’ve marked it and will collect some seed later.

UPDATE That was a few days ago - and yesterday I found another one, twenty miles farther south. I've been all these years and never seen one white one, and now I come across two.

An Asian bush honeysuckle with attractive amber berries. Image ©GardenPhotos.comAsian bush honeysuckles

I’d never stopped to look closely at all the shrubby honeysuckles along the roadside (please forgive my severe dereliction of botanical duty), they’re growing along a stretch of road where it’s not safe to stop the car. But they’re quite a sight in May when covered in white or cream or pink or red flowers, and again now when they’re in fruit.

Then in a parking area the other day I spotted a plant with lovely amber orange berries (left, click to enlarge). Frankly, I’m not sure if it’s Lonicera maackii, L. morrowii, L. tatarica, or L. x bella (the hybrid between L. morrowii and L. tatarica)  – all of which are collectively known as Asian Bush Honeysuckle; I’ll have to make more of an effort to check them when they flower next year. But, although I know they’re all rated as invasive, they’re very attractive especially those with brilliant scarlet berries (rather than a dull and dirty red) and this pretty amber berried form.

Variegated oak

And finally, on the way up the hill to the ledge from which I shot this wonderful picture of a field of Black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta) – a variegated oak seedling (below, click to enlarge). I think this may be the only one I’ve ever seen outside a botanic garden, and here it is growing by a woodland trail in Pike County, Pennsylvania.

Variegated seedling of red oak, Quercus rubra. Image ©GardenPhotos.comIt’s a seedling of red oak, Quercus rubra, and a quick online search for variegated red oaks reveals only ‘Greg’s Variegated’ and one named as 'Foliis Variegatis' in the Journal of Arboriculture in October 1987. It’s growing very near the trail; I may have to move it to the garden in the fall.

The only other one I’ll mention here is the vanishing trumpet vine (Campsis radicans). There are occasional plants all the way along my drive, all with the usual orange flowers. But, last week, I spotted one cluster of purplish red flowers.

There was too much traffic to stop examine it but it turns out this is a known variation - ‘Atropurpurea’ – but very rarely seen. So rarely seen, in fact, that when I did stop a few days later – I couldn’t find it!

Spectacular new conifer encyclopedia


I’m awestruck. This is a most extraordinary book. And having myself edited an encyclopedia that ran to half a million words and 1500 pictures – I can tell you that just putting this book together so beautifully and getting it out at all is an amazing achievement. Then, as soon as you open it, you see how valuable this book is.

Seventy three genera, 615 species and around 8000 cultivars are presented in two volumes totaling 1508 pages in a format that’s noticeably larger than all the other familiar plant encyclopedias. Oh, and did I mention there are over 5000 color photographs? Five thousand! And if you thought you weren’t really very interested in conifers, those pictures will convert you in moments. The full page image of the big blue cone of Abies koreana (above, click to enlarge) is stunning. I want one. And it’s so unusual to be able to see so many examples of the same cultivar illustrated at different times of year.

ConiferEncyclopediaBooks600As a guide to how comprehensive this book is, it includes (by my count) one hundred and ninety three cultivars of the US native Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus) (P. strobus 'Louie' below, click to enlarge) and two hundred and three cultivars of the British native Scots’ Pine (P. sylvestris). I don’t dare count the entries under Lawson’s Cypress (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana) but they cover almost thirty eight pages. So yes, it’s comprehensive. And all the classification and naming is all bang up to date.

Clearly and attractively laid out, the pictures are superb, with those used at full page providing a fine appreciation of the detail of cones or foliage or the habit of the plant. A very useful feature is that a height and width after ten years is given wherever possible. The extensive cross referencing of synonyms and even mis-spelled names is extremely valuable, they even note where every single picture was taken – at one hundred and twenty one different gardens around the world. Talk about thorough…

Put together by the Latvian conifer specialist Aris G. Auders and Derek P. Spicer, Chair of the PinusstrobusLouie900 British Conifer Society, over just seven years, they travelled the world examining and photographing plants and checked every scrap of serious conifer literature. The book is published in co-operation with the Royal Horticultural Society with expert editing especially from from Victoria Matthews, as well Mike Grant and Lawrence Springate, formerly RHS International Conifer Registrar. Quite a team...

Of course, this is not a book for everyone (the publishers' price is £149, after all), it’s far more than most gardeners need. But this is going to be powerfully influential book. Every college horticulture department across the world, every university botany department, every horticultural and botanical institution across the world, every conifer nursery, every major horticultural society – they should all have it. Every garden writer who writes about conifers should have it too. And many garden designers will find the vast variety of shapes and textures and colors on show inspiring. My copy is not leaving this room!

If you really want to know everything there is to know about conifers, start with this book.

The Royal Horticultural Socity Enclyclopedia of Conifers by Aris G. Auders and Derek P. Spicer is published by RHS/Kingsblue Publishing.

This book was published in Europe some time ago, but only now is there a guaranteed supply in North America. I waited to review it until it was generally available.


Although these are very heavy books, as I write still only charges $3.99 for shipping and in Britain delivery from is free! This, of course, may change.

Powerhouse Plant For All Seasons: Clethra 'Ruby Spice'

Clethra alnifolia 'Ruby Spice' in flower and in fall color. Images ©GardenPhotos.comPowerhouse Plants, Plants For All Seasons, are individual varieties which provide color and interest for at least two seasons of the year and not just a fleeting flush of flowers followed by months of dull foliage. I feature over five hundred of them in my latest book, Powerhouse Plants, and every month in Gardeners' World, Britain’s top-selling garden magazine (and also available in the US) I focus on one very special Plant For All Seasons, highlighting three features which bring color to the garden at different times of the year. This month, in the magazine, I feature Hypericum 'Albury Purple'.

And every month here on my Transatlantic Gardener blog I bring you details of another, this month it’s Clethra alnifolia ‘Ruby Spice’ (click to enlarge), winner of the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.

‘Ruby Spice’ has two special features – three, if you count the fragrance. At about this time of year, the upright spikes of flowers are opening at the shoot tips and in the leaf joints of the upper foliage. Set against deep green foliage and deep rose in colour, they don’t fade as the flowers of older pink varieties do and they also feature a heavy sweet fragrance.

Then, in the fall, after the flowers have gone, the foliage turns bright buttery yellow to create an entirely different feature.

‘Ruby Spice’ is a very manageable plant, reaching just 6ft/1.8m, perhaps a little more, and forms an attractive bush without any pruning. It does, however, need an acid soil although it seems happy in full sun (as long as the soil is not dry) or in light or partial shade. Hardy to USDA zone 4 and RHS zone H5, it can even be grown in a large container of ericaceous (lime-free) potting soil.

This is my fourth monthly piece about Powerhouse Plants, Plants For All Seasons which don’t flare and fade with two weeks of flowers and fifty weeks of boring leaves. Last month I featured Rosa rugosa, and before that Kolkwitzia amabilis Dreamcatcher (‘Maradco’), Actaea rubra and Paeonia ‘Sarah Bernhardt’. So when you look at a plant in flower at the nursery or in a catalog, always ask: What else does it do?

Please take a look at Plants For All Seasons in Gardeners' World magazine each month. And check back here for monthly posts about other Powerhouse Plants – the Plants For All Seasons.

You can order my book, Powerhouse Plants in Britain from

You can order my book, Powerhouse Plants in North America and the rest of the world from

Or you can find out more about the book at the Powerhouse Plants webpage.

Subscribe to Gardeners' World magazine In North America,Gardeners' World magazine is also available in Barnes & Noble and other good bookstores.

Powerhouse Plant For All Seasons: Rosa rugosa

The flowers and hips of Rosa rugosa bring us two valuable features at different seasons. Image ©
Powerhouse Plants, Plants For All Seasons, are individual varieties which provide color and interest for at least two seasons of the year and not just a fleeting flush of flowers. I feature over five hundred of them in my latest book, Powerhouse Plants, and every month in Gardener’s World, Britain’s top-selling garden magazine (and also available in the US, from Barnes & Noble stores for example) I focus on one very special Plant For All Seasons, highlighting three features which bring color to the garden at different times of the year. This month, in the magazine, I feature Hydrangea aspera subsp. sargentiana.

And every month here on my Transatlantic Gardener blog I bring you details of another. Last month it was a recently introduced shrub, Kolkwitzia amabilis Dreamcatcher (‘Maradco’). This month it’s the old favorite Rosa rugosa.

One of the toughest shrubs you’ll come across, Rosa rugosa (above, click to enlarge) features a long season of large single flowers overlapping in season with large, long-lasting red hips. The deeply veined foliage is attractive too, most forms have a lovely fragrance, and they rarely grow taller than 8ft/2.4m, usually less.

And yes, this is a tough plant. It grows naturally in areas of China and Siberia where the sea freezes over so it takes ferocious winters as well as salt spray. It flowers well in a wide variety of soils, including almost pure sea sand, and needs little pruning except perhaps to shorten an occasional long shoot. And that’s just as well because the stems are exceptionally thorny – so it’s ideal as an informal hedge to keep out the neighbor’s dog.

As well as the wild type with its purplish pink flowers and large, flattened red hips there are some fine selections and hybrids, all with excellent hips:
‘Alba’ – single white flowers
‘Blanc Double de Coubert’ – double white flowers with an especially good scent
‘Fru Dagmar Hastrup’ – silvery pink flowers
‘Robusta’ – bright red flowers

But avoid ‘Roserie de l’Hay’ which rarely produces any hips at all.

Please take a look at Plants For All Seasons in Gardeners World magazine each month. And check back here for monthly posts about other Powerhouse Plants – the Plants For All Seasons.

You can order my book, Powerhouse Plants in Britain from

You can order my book, Powerhouse Plants in North America and the rest of the world from

Or you can find out more about the book at the Powerhouse Plants webpage.

Subscribe to Gardeners' World magazine In North America,Gardeners' World magazine is also available in Barnes & Noble and other good bookstores.