CALLICARPA BODINIERI var. giraldii 'Profusion'

Callicarpa bodinieri var. giraldii 'Profusion' with its attractive purple berries
'Bodinier's beautyberry'

Commonly known as 'Bodinier's beautyberry' or just plain 'beautyberry', Callicarpa bodinieri var. giraldii 'Profusion' is for most of the year a surprisingly uninteresting specimen. At least it is in my opinion, until of course the appearance of its ornamental berries in late autumn.

And herein lies the problem, while Callicarpa bodinieri var. giraldii 'Profusion' has gorgeous autumn effect should you plant in in a prime location to make the most of its almost unique ornamental value or should you try and grow it as a container specimen so that it can be effective hidden from view for the majority of the year and then moved to 'front and centre' for the key, precious few weeks? That being said, with mature specimens able to reach an overall height of 3 metres and with a width of 2.5 metres, growing as suitably decent example as an easily movable pot plant is a lot easier said than done! So the positioning of 'Bodinier's beautyberry' is mostly going to be some compromise but consider planting it near to a prime location behind as few herbaceous plants known to lose their leaves before the show starts. Get it right and you can enjoy the almost unique delight that these jewel-like berries offer every season going forward, arguably only bettered by Pollia condensata, the marble berry. Unfortunately the marble berry is neither hardy or in general cultivation, whereas Callicarpa bodinieri var. giraldii 'Profusion is both.

The original species is a native to Western and Central China and named in honour of Émile-Marie Bodinier (1842 - 1901), a French missionary and botanist who collected plants in China - although not this one. The genus name is derived from the Greek meaning 'beautiful fruit'. It was introduced to the Victorian gardening establishment in around 1845, followed later by the Giraldii cultivar which entered production in England 1900 and receiving the First Class certificate from the Royal Horticultural Society in 1924. 'Profusion' was a further selection from the Giraldii cultivar. It is now the most attractive and widely cultivated of all species and cultivars within the genus Callicarpa.

Callicarpa bodinieri var. giraldii 'Profusion' is a deciduous cultivar with a rounded habit. The leaves are narrowly elliptic, toothed and have a downy bloom which is more prominent when young. The new foliage emerges bronze-purple in spring, turning to a dark green over the summer before finally turning to golden-purple prior to leaf drop in the autumn.

Small purple blooms appear from June-August in dense sprays no more than 3-4 cm wide on the new wood however these are largely overlooked. Once pollinated these are followed by eye-catching, glossy violet-purple bead-like fruits which appear in clusters of 30-40 individuals. These ripen in September, although the colour steadily improved through October and into early November. be aware than when planted in isolation Callicarpa bodinieri var. giraldii 'Profusion' will tend to fruit poorly, so for best berry affect plant in loose groups or for best results in a mass display.

Callicarpa bodinieri var. giraldii 'Profusion' received the Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society in 1984, along with the First Class certificate in 1921.

Main image credit - Kurt Stüber: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported


The autumn display of catkins of Garrya elliptica
When and how do you prune back Garrya elliptica?

Garrya elliptica is an extremely handsome evergreen, and a popular choice for going against shady walls in suburban gardens. It is native to the coastal ranges of California and southern Oregon, and is named in honour of named for Nicholas Garry, secretary of the Hudson's Bay Company from 1820-1835. A strange association being that these two locations are almost as far as you can possibly be being that they are situated at opposite ends of different countries!

As attractive as it is, with a mature height of up to 5 metres, at some point it is likely to be necessary to prune it back to suitably maintainable size. While still within a suitable size regular pruning is usually unnecessary and hard pruning should be avoided as this can cause invigorated shoots to soils its natural habit.

Catkins of Garrya elliptica?
When and how do you prune back Garrya elliptica?
There is a general rule of thumb that can be followed with the majority of evergreen shrubs which is to prune back over the summer. This makes sense as many evergreen species from Mediterranean, subtropical or tropical enter a kind of dormancy period as a way of coping with the summer heat. Of course if you pruned back Garrya elliptica in the summer you would be removing the juvenile ornamental catkins and therefore robbing yourself of their ornamental value during the late winter.

Therefore, where pruning is required (as in reduction in height, removal of errant, disease or damaged stems) the best time to prune Garrya elliptica is in early spring. This needs to be timed to fit between just as the catkins start to fade, but before the new spring growth emerges.

With regards to unkempt, overgrown specimens, these can be renovated by cutting them back gradually over three to four years to create a low framework of branches. So long as the specimen is healthy. You will find that the re-growth will be invigorated and will itself require thinning out the following spring. Select the strongest, best-placed shoots and remove the rest.

HOW TO GROW THE SNOWBERRY - Symphoricarpos albus


Yellow blooms of Erysimum cheiri at the Botanische Tuin TU Delft, Delft, The Netherlands
How to grow wallflowers from seed

Once an extremely popular plant during the Victorian period, wallflowers have steadily fallen out of fashion over the years arguably in favour of the even more brightly coloured and mass-produced (read inexpensive) Tulip bulbs. Despite this, and maybe in part due to the ubiquitous presence of modern Tulips cultivars, wallflowers still manage to maintain a place in the garden. The reason for this is down to those gardeners who are becoming bored of seeing little else other than a sea of different sized, coloured and shaped tulips throughout the spring, wallflowers are without doubt the next in line for being the toughest and most colourful of all Spring flowering plants. In fact wallflower cultivars Erysimum cheiri 'Persian Carpet’, 'Sunset Apricot' and 'Sunset Primrose' have all received the Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society.

There was a time when the shops were full of bunches of bare-root wallflowers for little more than 10 plants for £1.00, but nowadays you are likely only to see pot-grown plants at a significantly more expensive price point. However this shouldn't stop you from enjoying these gorgeous flowering biennials as they are easily grown from seed.

As far as traditional bedding plants go wallflowers are amongst the hardiest, but this is understandable as the original species is a native to most of Europe. As such there is no need to propagate under protection as wallflower seeds will happily germinate outside.

Wallflower seeds should be sown during May or June in order to produce plants that can be bedded out in the autumn. Sow the seeds either individually in large modular seed trays containing a soil based seed compost ot thinly in an open, prepared seedbed of any ordinary soil. Gently water them in and they will germinate within a week or so. Generally wallflowers are extremely easy to germinate, just keep the soil or compost on the moist side bt without waterlogging the rots. When the seedlings are large enough to handle (usually around October) they can be carefully lifted, try to disturb the roots as little as possible, and bedded out in preparation for the spring. Pinch out the shoots before planting to create a compact, bushy habit. They are tolerant of most neutral or alkaline soils and will even cope well on very poor soils.

Wallflowers are usually sown one year to flower the next, and then afterwards discarded. This is for two reasonably good reasons. The first is that wallflowers have a tendency to become leggy during its second year. The second is that as time moves on wallflowers become increasingly prone to clubroot.