Garrya elliptica is an evergreen shrub suited for
growing against walls or fences. The catkins
(tassels) are produced in profusion from
mid-winter through until early spring. Once seem
in flower, you will realise how it gets the common
name of Silk Tassel Bush. Male and female catkins
are on separate plants. It is said that the female
flowers are more attractive than the male - though
the male catkins are normally longer. On a well
grown bush, the male catkins can be 4in long. I
have seen them nearer to 6in.
How do you tell
if it is male or female? The male catkins will
have pollen - the female plant will have little
Garrya looks best in a
sunny position, but will do well in part shade.
For me, it always looks best when it can be
blessed by any winter evening sun, as happens from
time to time. This really brings the catkins to
the fore, instead of just blending in in the
(Silk Tassel Bush) January 1st
If Garrya elliptica were to flower in mid
summer rather than the depths of winter, it would
not be as important a shrub - other than for its
evergreen wall screening ability. However, in
mid-winter - and this one was photographed on a
very cold January 1st - it makes for a spectacular
addition to the winter garden. As the male flowers
mature, they show signs of pale yellow pollen,
which adds to their beauty.
Where to Grow
The Silk Tassel Bush is really best against a wall
or fence, though it will also grow as a free
standing large shrub in a border - or even a lawn
centerpiece, for it can be base planted with other
interesting plants for the summer months. If it is
to be planted in an 'open' situation, then it
would requite a sheltered spot.
Garrya eliptica is generally hardy,
though can suffer setback in severe winters.
Together with this it is prone to wind scorch of
the evergreen foliage, though this seems not to
affect the health of the shrub overall - just
Seaside planting is not a problem, for it will
withstand salt-laden winds, and as with several
other shrubs and trees, seem to cope better with
coastal winds that inland winds.
Garrya will grow in a wide range of normal garden
soils, but will not tolerate prolonged
waterlogging in the winter months. It will grow on
clay or sandy soils, and anything in between. The
main requirement being free draining.
Problems with Garrya elliptica
Disfiguration of the foliage from severe wind scr\orch
can be unsightly if grown in exposed situations,
but rarely a problem when grown against a wall.
The leaf scorch should not be confused with the
fungal disease 'leaf spot' which frequently
occurs. Preventative treatment with a fungal spray
is best idea.
catkins, you will have a grey-green evergreen for
the rest of the year!
Propagation of Garrya Elliptica
Seed - if it can be obtained, should be sown in
autumn - in a cool place and allowed to
overwinter, with some germination happening in the
following spring. It required a cold few months to
break the seed dormancy, and aid germination, so
do not keep in heated propagator.
Semi-ride or ripe cuttings have always worked
well for me with Garrya elliptica - simply put three or four in pot of
rooting compost, and leave in cold-frame for the
winter months. If there has been no rooting by mid
spring, and the cutting still seems healthy, then
they can be placed in a position where they can
receive gentle bottom heat.