Garrya Elliptica or the Silk Tassel Bush
Grass cutting and hayfever in February, daytime temperatures in their mid teens; is there still a place in our gardens for ‘winter interest’ shrubs such as the Silk Tassel bush?
Garrya elliptica or the Silk Tassel bush used to provide some welcome relief from gloomy, cold winter days when many other plants were resting during their dormancy periods.
Whilst we enjoy ridiculously unseasonal, warm February days and the premature flowering displays of many plants, we should spare a thought for robust plants such as Garrya elliptica that perform whatever the weather during the traditional ‘winter’ months.
Garrya elliptica is a native of Western North America, it can often be found growing in tree like proportions up to 8 metres tall in the states of California and Oregon.
The Silk Tassel bush is an evergreen shrub that is grown for it’s attractive winter catkins that are produced on separate male and female plants. On some male cultivars the catkins are often over 20 cm long (male cultivars produce longer catkins). One such cultivar is Garrya elliptica ‘James Roof’. If male and female plants are both grown in the same garden, the female plant will develop strings of purple berries.
Garrya elliptica requires some shelter, to prevent cold winds burning the foliage and the tassels will last longest with some protection. For that reason, it is an excellent shrub for growing against a wall, and will also do well on north and east walls where limited daylight reduces available plant choice.
Once planting and establishment is over there is very little maintenance to be done. Pruning is limited to maintaining a desired shape or removing any wayward shoots.
It is plants like the Silk Tassel bush that we can rely upon should we ever get a proper winter!
Read out more about Garrya elliptica in our plant database.