December 15, 2011

Plant of the month:
Cotoneaster horizontalis

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).

Cotoneaster horizontalis

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. Theres a Mr. Linky link at the end of my "Lessons Learned" post. Ill be posting about the lessons learned at the solstice. Thanks to those whove joined in so far!)

18 comments:

  1. I love this plant but have managed to kill it twice the past two winters. I think it is due to poor drainage. Still, I won't give up, love the "chameleon" qualities you referenced.

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  2. Now that is a cool photo of the cotoneaster. I have loads of the stuff (twelve linear feet) and did not notice how pretty it really is in the frost. It is on my neighbor's side of the house and I rarely go over there. Thanks for letting me know it is pretty at this time of year too. My yard is small, but I still miss things. I am surprised to read John has killed it off. I find it one of the most invasive plants. I do dig it up every couple of years and it still shows up again. I like it though in Spring, so I never used chemical warfare on it.

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  3. Lovely photos, Beth! Thanks for showcasing the cotoneaster; I've never been real impressed by them, but now I see I haven't seen them at their best until now.

    Just posted some "lessons learned." I'll be back to comment on your last post, which was very thought-provoking, as soon as I get my Christmas cards in the mail:)

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  4. Your cotoneaster had beautiful fall foliage...glad you were able to capture the glory. I know what you mean about missing the opportunity the second time around. My maple that was in full glory 2 days ago and is already half nude with maple leaves littered all around the ground. When I noticed it, I went in to grab my camera and it was gone...hubby borrowed it. Dang, I hope I don't miss that leaf litter! We're going to get cold and I'm afraid a little windy, too!

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  5. Cotoneaster is not one of my faves, but you have managed to photograph it beautifully and possibly even peak my interest a little. :) I keep forgetting to do my Lessons Learned post! Thanks for the reminder!

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  6. What a beautiful plant, Beth! I love its chameleon-like qualities as it goes from season to season. It's beautiful every season. I can't wait to see what the plants are like in Michigan next summer! I'm sure they are pretty similar to what you grow in Wisconsin! Just lovely ;)

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  7. @John: Mine has died back a bit in extreme winters, but it always recovers. Perhaps, as you say, a different location might work for you. Yeah, it's weird how it changes from day to day and season to season.

    @Donna: Thanks! I looked down, and there it was. Weird. I must get some photos of it in Spring--I hope I'll remember!

    @Rose: Thanks! Sometimes I take the plant for granted--it's so squat and understated most of the year. But, boy, it sure captured my attention with the light hitting it just right and the frost clinging to the leaves!

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  8. @Rose: Also, thanks for joining in the meme!

    @Cat: It's neat to visit your blog to see the autumn lingering a little longer. Your recent pics had me longing for autumn color again!

    @Hanni: Oh good. :) It's a weird plant, but if you find the right spot it can be a nice addition to the garden. I just have one Cotoneaster (or grouping of them) near the front door. It doesn't spread much, but it creates a little interest during various seasons.

    @Diane: Thank you! Yes, I'll bet you'll find similar plants at your Michigan place. Things are very lush in the Midwest from May through October. You'll love it!

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  9. Gorgeous plant and I look forward to the solstice post!!

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  10. That first photo is stunning. Great post on a great plant. I do not have any, but it is one to keep in mind for the right situation for sure.

    I have appreciated all of your encouraging comments this year. Thank you!
    Merry Christmas!
    Julie

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  11. @Donna: Thanks, yes it will be fun to do the solstice wrap-up! ;-)

    @Julie: Thank you. It has been a very easy plant for me--it must be in the right spot. Thanks for your kind comments, too, and Merry Christmas!

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  12. I am sure your cotoneaster will be covered with snow soon enough :-) I am not sure we can grow that variety here; I have not seen it. It is so pretty with the frosty edges :-) Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a comment. I appreciate it!

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  13. I come to your blog via Nice Rhon4e Street Gardens.The top image is hauntingly beautiful. One of the best I've seen recently.

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  14. @Toni: The Cotoneaster was covered with 1.5 inches of snow yesterday, but it's melting with warmer weather today. Still unsure whether we'll have a white Christmas. I always enjoy visiting your blog!

    @Patrick: Thank you for your very kind comment! I'm a huge fan of Scott's blog. Welcome! I look forward to comparing gardening notes!

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  15. Thank you for this well-written and informative post. The first picture is so lovely, I am glad you caught it right in time.

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  16. @Masha: Thank you for your kind comments. It's an interesting plant, and I can't wait to photograph it in the springtime.

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  17. I have always liked the texture of this shrub but don't have one.

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  18. @Carolyn: It's a unique shrub. If you have a small spot that has been challenging, this plant might be worth trying.

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