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Report From An Opinionated Gardener – February 18

For two years I’ve loved my purple leaf Harry Lauder’s walking stick, aka Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’ Red Majestic. Like many who plant this quirky filbert, I love it in the winter because the zig zaggy branches are interesting when the foliage is gone. Unlike the green leaf variety, however, the leaves on Red Majestic are appealing in the summer as well.

Last year I planted annuals around this shrub and the licorice plant (Helichrysum petiolare) went nuts, ultimately using the Red Majestic filbert for support. Now, however, the annuals are dead and gone and the Harry Lauder’s walking stick is all twigs. Now, in leaner times, I can see what was hidden all summer.

Like other Corylus ‘Contorta’, this plant is grafted on another filbert’s rootstock. The contorted varieties don’t live on their own roots. As a result, the plants often put up growth from below the graft and you get un-twisted shoots coming up that want to take over. These weren’t noticeable when the plant had leaves and was covered with the Helichrysum, but they were clearly visible now that it’s winter. I cut them off.

This is one advantage of times that are less verdant…we see things that would otherwise go unnoticed.

You can't see them in this photo because all the foliage hides them, but there are two shoot coming up from the rootstock, looking to take over.

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