- Chinese hornbeam
Location in the Gardens:
Season of interest:
- All year round
Description of plant:
An extremely beautiful tree with a regular round crown and somewhat weeping branches, seldom seen in western gardens.
The leaves are deep green, shiny, with toothed edges, grouped in decorative clusters typical of the hornbeams. They are a bronze colour in spring, while in autumn they turn a blazing orange-yellow, sometimes with interesting, clearly defined splashes of red. The trees are also decorated in autumn by the nutlets in their paper-lantern dangling clusters, typical of the hornbeam genus.
Slow-growing and adapted to dry conditions it is generally considered a small tree suitable for a domestic setting, our specimens at Highdown belie this idea however. it is a popular species for bonsai.
Ideal growing conditions and habitat:
A very adaptable tree which will tolerate sun or shade and most soil types, but prefers drier conditions.
Country of origin:
- China, Japan and Korea
Raised from seed collected by Reginald Farrer on his first expedition to Kansu, China in 1913.
Raised at Highdown in 1914, although only one of the seeds given to Stern germinated, it has developed into a splendid tree.
Stern talks about it in his book 'A Chalk Garden' saying “All the surrounding shrubs have been taken away from it, so one can admire the stately shape of this lovely tree”.
A seedling from the original was raised by Stern in the 1930s and planted by Queen Mary in 1937 when she visited Highdown. This tree can also be found in The Tree and Shrub Garden to the east of the original.