A few weeks back, I stepped out of the house looking for something interesting to photograph and everything looked dull. No snow, no blooms, not much fall color left. I was about to step back in the warm house when I saw the frost on the Cotoneaster (a photo I included in an earlier post).
After snapping a few shots, I made a mental note to photograph it more since it was so vibrant this autumn. But I was too late. The next time I set out to photograph plants, the Cotoneaster leaves were gone. It seems I captured it just before leaf drop—around the time of our first hard freeze.
The plant isn’t particularly beautiful now—although the arching branches are still architecturally fascinating. If you look closely, you can see the bright red berries. But they’d be much lovelier with a blanket of snow, like last year at this time.
Cotoneaster horizontalis, or Rockspray Cotoneaster, is native to
Western China. It’s a low-growing (2-4 feet), sprawling shrub, although it’s easily managed and not particularly invasive. The USDA says it’s cold-hardy to -28° F, which makes sense since it has survived here for at least 12 years (the previous owners may have planted it when the house was new, which would make it 24 years old).
I’ve occasionally clipped a few branches for floral arrangements. If you catch them when they’re still green with berries, they form a colorful frame for autumn bouquets. Several sources mention Cotoneaster as a popular choice for Bonsai trees. I’ve never propagated a Bonsai, but I can see how it would be an ideal specimen. Several remarkable examples are featured on The Art of Bonsai’s website.
Layanee at Ledge and Gardens posted some awesome shots of the sun catching her Rockspray Cotoneaster.
One thing that amazes me about Cotoneaster is its chameleon qualities. It morphs through the seasons from a dull mound of branches with pretty berries in late fall, to its climax of color just before leaf drop. (Like Layanee, I don’t have any shots of Rockspray Cotoneaster in bloom. Drat!)
(Entries for the “Garden Lessons Learned” meme are always welcome! Click on the tab at the top or the “Garden Lessons Learned” link on the right side of this page. There’s a “Mr. Linky” link at the end of my "Lessons Learned" post. I’ll be posting about the lessons learned at the solstice. Thanks to those who’ve joined in so far!)