The Ashridge Nurseries Blog

Cotton on to Cotoneasters

Another plant that sings for its supper and is also looking good at this time of year are the Cotoneasters. They are a varied bunch, some growing as ground cover, some growing into standard trees but all of them are members of the rose family, all are tough (they are allied to hawthorns and pyracanthas), hardy (many call Siberia or the Himalayas home) and ascetic (unfazed by any soil type, drought or shade once established). The only pruning they need is if they overrun their remit. They spend all summer producing foaming white or pink flowers that are manna from heaven for bees and then all autumn and winter producing berries that both humans and birds adore. Albeit for different reasons. We have chosen to offer four of the many hundreds out there: Cotoneaster 'Cornubia' is semi-evergreen, developing striking autumn colour but losing its leaves in the harshest winters. Its profusion of red berries makes up for this and it is said to be the top berry producer of them all. An upright plant when young, its branches then arch elegantly as it matures as if weighed down by all its many berries which have earned it an RHS AGM. We think it is handsome enough to be a specimen tree surrounded by grass with a clear sky behind it to show off its fantastic flowers and berries.

The red berried Cotoneaster simonsii and orange berried C. franchetti are both sold bare rooted for hedging of between 80-200 cms (2ft 6” to 6ft). Both have bushy, lozenge-shaped green foliage which clips well but C. franchetti has a white underside to its leaves which gives it a slightly silvery look. They are excellent for screening and for bird life in your garden.

Last but not least the redoubtable C. horizontalis, a ground cover variety and a marvel at covering verges and steep banks or appearing to live off thin air as it grows from the base of a dry and dusty wall. Its leaves are tiny but its stature belies its strength as it spreads in a fan shape up a wall or over some unprepossessing area in need of disguise. Its nickname is rock or wall spray, being the Banksy of the plant world. So if you are surveying a garden deprived of berries you now know what to do about it....

Cotoneaster simonsii Cotoneaster simonsii
Cotoneaster horizontalis Cotoneaster horizontalis
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