Plant of the Month: June 2012

 

At midsummer, the scent of ripe pineapple

 

Scents evoke memories of days gone by. Competing with the heavy lingering fragrance of Philadelphus at this time of year is Cytisus battandieri, an outstanding shrub with loose growth habit. Planted against a south facing wall at the Alpine area, the terminal flower cluster glows yellow in the sunlight, complemented by a silvery sheen of the young leaf growth. Now add in the most delicious and wholly believable scent of pineapple and you realise this is a plant that should be more widely grown.

Native to North Africa and found in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco this plant flowers reliably. Seed has been collected from plants growing at 1500m and higher near Jebel Hebri. The raceme is tubular, 110mm long with a diameter of 50mm and is composed of multitudes of individual pea-shaped flowers.  It needs shelter from severe winter weather and a well drained soil is essential for successful establishment and continued growth.

Once flowering has finished, be ruthless and prune back all the long lanky growth to a framework. By midsummer the shoots can extend by half a metre. Neglect this for a year, and yes, you will have flowers but the plant soon becomes unmanageable especially if wall mounted. Don’t expect longevity, source seed and grub out after 10-15 years growth.

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