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All Star Line-up


I must admit that the picture is rather underwhelming, three pots of dormant sticks and they’re the supposed gems of the garden? With most things garden-related however, it’s not the initial state that’s important, but the future potential.

On a trip to the local nursery to buy some shrubs and trees for the Landing Pad border, I had a very precise list that I was not going to waver from:

  1. Cercidiphyllum Japonicum, the Katsura or Candy floss tree
  2. Cornus Controversa Variegata, the wedding cake tree
  3. Prunus “Kanzan”

By now, Cercidiphyllum has been on local gardening TV so much that I’m surprised it hasn’t sold out. I came across this large shrub/tree years before it came into gardening fashion. In summer it’s a rather unassuming plant with pleasant heart-shaped leaves, insignificant flowers and a general forgettable air, but come the autumn, when the green begins to drain from the leaves, there suddenly a scent in the air that’s a heady mix of caramel, toffee and butterscotch. It’s not coming from any kitchen, but from the Katsura tree as the leaves turn to their autumn colour.

At the nursery we arrived just in time to pick a plant whose final few withered leaves still carried this strong sweet sugar smell, hence the name of “candy floss tree”.

The next plant – simply a dogwood – is a rare specimen. A very slow growing shrub with the most spectacular form and habit. The branches naturally grow outwards in tiers, as layers on a wedding cake. The glossy bright variegated leaves carry white flowers in early summer. In winter, the deep, wine red colour of the smooth bark glows in the low sun.

The Wedding cake tree needs to be seen as a mature specimen to really understand the “wow” factor. Unfortunately, while we bought the biggest one we could, as we can see those first tiers starting to form, it will take some time for it to become sizeable. They’re also expensive, becoming eye-wateringly so the larger they are. In the mean time, I’ll just have to make-do with pictures of these trees on the internet while I wait for our own to grow.

Finally the Prunus “Kanzan” is a hark back to the old garden, which was dominated by a large ornamental cherry in the corner that had a jaw dropping flower display in May. The boughs were so heavily laden with cherry blossom they would block the view through the canopy and would turn the ground pink with petals as the blossom faded.

After taking some close-ups of the leaves and double-pink flowers to a gardening group, Prunus “Kanzan” turned out to be the most likely match and so on the list it went. While we do have an inherited ornamental cherry blossom already, it’s old, suffering with being in proximity to a huge goat willow tree nearby and from not having much (if any) care. This old tree is on the edge of a border we are making, so will will get some new soil, compost, fertiliser and we’re planning to reduce the goat willow’s overbearing canopy.

These three trees are all settled in the new Landing Pad border, along with three small Philadelphus “Belle Etoile” shrubs (taken from cuttings), some cheap acers that we purchased a few years ago and have had in pots since and a few other bits and pieces. The Landing pad border is still far from finished, but the plants that will give it its height and structure are now in. I can’t wait for them to come into leaf next season and see them grow and develop.

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author & gardener

Sunil Patel

I'm Sunil Patel, this is me. I created the Garden at 13 Broom Acres and I open it to visitors. I also bake and write blog posts giving a "behind the scenes" look into what it's like to maintain such a garden.

Visit the blog, then come and visit the garden. We can have a good sit-down, a jolly chinwag and a relaxing cup of tea with a sinfully generous slice of home made cake.

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Lynn Hunt 24/11/2018 - 9:39 pm

Three wonderful finds, Sunil. I will look forward to seeing photos when they are in their glory. I had not heard of the Candy Floss tree before, but it sounds yummy!

Sunil 25/11/2018 - 4:52 pm

Hello Lynn, I’m also looking forward to them coming into leaf next season. In the mean time, I’ll need to think about what I can underplant with.

gardeninacity 27/11/2018 - 12:45 am

Truly a collection with star power. I’ve heard very good things about the Katsura tree.

Sunil 04/12/2018 - 3:55 pm

The Katsura tree has been on gardening TV a lot recently. It’s funny that I found it a long time ago and it’s been on my shopping list for years, just waiting for the borders to me made first.

Jayne 30/11/2018 - 9:38 pm

Interesting! Can’t wait to see their development! PS They have found a good home!

Sunil 04/12/2018 - 3:58 pm

Hello Jayne, I can’t wait to see them develop either. They have winter buds on at the moment but they’re nothing to do anything for several months yet. I’m normally very patient, but I’ve been wanting these plants for so long that the wait is almost agonising.


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