The Dreadful Deed is Done…

Which was to cut a young tree down in its prime.  It was looking wonderful, covered with open clusters of small pink and white fruit.  It’s just that it was in the wrong place, and the blackbirds had just started stripping it of berries, so it seemed a good time to take it down.  This particular sort of rowan, an as yet unidentified Chinese Sorbus species, quite probably part of the rather variable S. hupehensis, rather than the similarly variable S. vilmorinii, which, in general has larger berries and more leaflets per leaf.

Whatever it’s species, it is a fast grower, so the wood was soft, and easily sawn.  A bit of puff and a quarter of an hour, and it was down and dismembered, amidst a chaos of trampled berries and wonderful mahogany red autumn foliage.

It arrived as a 6″ seedling, given by a gardener just back from a collecting trip to China.  It languished in its pot for a season or two, then got planted down by the now vanished shed.  That area, now with its fireplace, seating and so on, will get much used from mid-spring, which is why the sorbus had to go.  The flowers smell, as they do for most rowans, vile.  Really vile, the sort of intense, carrying, odour that causes an ‘yeoww!’ of disgust from the unwary passer-by.

There are, though, young plants coming on, though they’ll get planted rather further away, perhaps in the tiny strip of land called, pretentiously, ‘the wood’, or they might find a berth in the Lincolnshire garden.  Actually, the seedlings, perhaps a bit starved, produced autumn foliage even brighter than the parent tree.  They also seem so tolerant of bad conditions that they would almost certainly make good things to try as bonsai.

Incidentally, from the Lincolnshire garden come a few berries of the tiny Sorbus reducta, gathered because of their thrilling coral pink, slightly translucent, beauty.  Now, if that colour could be got into a decent tree-sized plant….

Seedlings of both species should appear next spring, after their overwintering outdoors.



About david stuart

garden writer and journalist, and occasionally a designer, with a garden in the Scottish borders, and his pal's gardens in Edinburgh, London, and Lincolnshire. They keep both of us very, very busy. Books I've written listed on my website, and dozens of articles and garden and plant pictures. Currently working on several new projects. One of these was to return to painting - see the blog - and which is proving exciting! or, more fun, have a look at
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