Posts Tagged ‘thorny plants’


June 11, 2010

Certain plants we take for granted – and pyracantha is one of them. But they are coming into flower right now, and what a terrific job they make of it, even if the dull cream flowers are not in themselves appealing (at least, not to me), especially as the infinitely more glamorous roses are just beginning.

Pyracanthas are a froth of flowers in June and are excellent wall shrubs

Pyracanthas – or firethorns – make good thorny hedging and are also excellent for training against a wall. This is a subject I’m planning on coming back to, as, at the end of the month, I’m leading a day at York Gate Garden at Adel, Leeds (I’ll be posting details on my website) for the Gardeners’ Royal Benevolent Society (Perennial), a charity I’m thrilled to be associated with. At York Gate – among other plantings of note – is surely one of the most spectacular wall-trained pyracanthas in the country: tier upon tier rising up about 10 metres, the full height of the house.

I may be exaggerating – the memory plays tricks – but it’s certainly a wonderful thing. I’ll be giving instructions on how to do this in my July newsletter – and post a picture on this blog. I would love to see it in autumn, when its red fruits must sing out against the louring dark brick.

Robinia pseudoacacia ‘Frisia’

November 13, 2009

At a Gardeners’ Question Time the other evening, there was a question about the tree Robinia pseudoacacia ‘Frisia’, and whether there were any alternatives. I was only too happy to answer this, as this is one of my all-time least favourite plants.

I can see the attraction (just). In spring, the soft yellow of its emerging, fluttering leaves are exactly what’s wanted. But come August, I have had enough of it. Aesthetic considerations apart, it has serious drawbacks. It is often recommended as suitable for small gardens. It emphatically isn’t – not only is it very fast growing, but it will make a huge tree, taller than a house, and the stems are viciously thorny.


Robinia pseudoacacia 'Frisia' has attractive leaves - but little else to recommend it

So why am I talking about it now? A stormy weekend is forecast, and there is a real danger that, if you grow this tree, branches will be ripped from it – they are notoriously brittle, and simply cannot stand up to strong winds. Should this happen, my recommendation would be to cut your losses and get rid of it. If you need something similar to replant, why not try Gleditsia triacanthos ‘Sunburst’ – much more elegant, even if its yellow leaves turn green by mid-summer.