Since my week got away from me last week, I’m posting a second post tonight. Hope you don’t mind! I’ve promised a new plant or product post each week, too, so here’s the new plant that I’m most excited about this week. (Since you’re gardeners, you do understand that my favorite plant changes at least once a week!)

Corylus avellana. “Where have I heard that name?” you may ask yourself. (Or maybe not.) Well, it may sound familiar because it’s the plant that many gardeners know by its common name–Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick. Actually, it’s Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’, if I’m being 100% correct. The species itself is not contorted, only the cultivar. For many years on my trips to Europe I have lusted after the many colored-foliage forms of filbert that are grown there–particularly in the cooler parts of Europe–Holland, Germany and so on. There were golden forms, purple forms, red forms, and others, but in the heat and humidity of the southern U.S., they were crispy by the end of June, if not sooner. Not so, now.

With the introduction of Corylus avellana ‘Red Majestic’, we finally have a colored-leaf form of the filbert that will withstand our heat and humidity–or so they say. Time will tell, but all the reports I’ve heard and read so far have been very positive. And not only are the leaves red, but the stems are also contorted and twisted! The vast majority of ornamental filberts whose foliage is colored have straight stems, but not this one! It’s as curly and contorted and twisted as any “Harry Lauder’s” I’ve ever seen–like a really good “bad hair day”! Well anyway, I’m excited about it. We received 6 plants at the garden center on Thursday–apparently they’re extremely limited in their availability this first year on the market, but keep your eyes peeled. You might give a quick call to your local garden centers and see if they’re going to carry it. If they are, I’d suggest getting your name put on a “Wish List”, if they do that sort of thing. Otherwise, you may miss out.

‘Red Majestic’ grows just like the green Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick–about 10′-12′ high and wide, preferring full sun (though I’m guessing that just a little afternoon shade in the south might be beneficial), moist but well-drained soil and some occasional pruning to help shape it (and so that you can have those fabulous branches to use indoors!). If there is any drawback, it is that the plant is grafted. This is the quickest and most efficient way to propagate this plant and get it to market, but it has one negative. The rootstock is from the regular filbert (non-contorted) and the thing suckers like mad! My new plant is in a 3-gallon pot and is only about 24″ tall and already it has suckers sprouting from the base. I chose one that has about 4″ of trunk at the base of the plant so that I can plant it deep and bury the graft. Hopefully, that will help reduce the amount of suckering somewhat, but I’m sure that it won’t eliminate it completely. Occasionaly sucker removal is a small price to pay though, for such a beautiful little garden plant! Get on the phone first thing in the morning and track one down!
Photo from Hale and Hines