The Teddington Gardener

A Whiter Shade of….. Rowan (Sorbus glabrescens)

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Sorbus glabrescens in the arboretum at RHS Wisley

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The arboretum at RHS Wisley in Surrey is a useful place to see many varieties of tree in a relatively small area – in particular it is possible to compare many different types of Silver Birch, or Rowan (Sorbus) or  Crab Apples (Malus) although the specimens planted are not limited to these three genus. The shape and size of the tree, the colour of the bark, the branching habit, the flowers,  the size and character of the fruit, if there are Spring or Autumn fireworks – these can all be compared with a group of near neighbours which I find very useful. More so if you are choosing a tree for your own garden. It is possible to see potential candidates in flower, in fruit, in autumn garb, fresh-leaved or bare-branched. The arboretum snakes out from the Glasshouse borders, beneath the fruit fields and is usually a quieter part of the gardens but ought to be a part of your next visit.

Sorbus glabrescens is a small to medium sized tree with white berries held on distinctive red stems, hailing from the Yunnan province of China. It is distinct from Sorbus hupehensis, which also has white berries (pomes, in fact) but more slender shoots.  Many sorbus have red fruit, some pink, some yellow. I think I have included a selection in previous posts and it is worth looking them out as potential candidates for the smaller garden. Spring blossom, persistent fruit, good autumn colouring, pinnate leaves and an open habit make many great small garden trees.

A little more from wikipedia…. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sorbus_glabrescens

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