Red Robins and Bridal Wreaths


Red is my favourite colour and so are the leaves of the Photinia fraseri plant. Photinia’s also known as red robin are quite unusual because from what I know and remember they retain their redness throughout the year.

Red Robin

They actually start out as green leaves but colour over time as the leaves mature. Photinia’s provide a good colour variation to any garden and are a great choice for filling up empty spaces . Providing you don’t mind them ‘branching out’ they can spread quite a bit so if you have a tiny garden the advice would be to keep on top of them by pruning vigorously. Photinia fraseri or Red Robin as is commonly known is fully hardy in almost all areas of the UK withstanding temperatures down to -12° and a few degrees lower in protected positions. It prefers full soil and rarely requires watering once it’s established and can even tolerate moderate drought. It can produce white flowers if left unprunned in the previous year. Mine has never produced white flowers and I might just leave it this year and see what happens next year.

Photinia fraseri (red robin)

I didn’t actually plant mine but inherited it alongside many other plants when I got married. I feel quite fortunate that my father in law was heavily involved in the garden at the point our house was purchased and invested a great deal in so many beautiful and hardy plants I now own. Sometimes though, I think I would have preferred a blank canvas as I think I’d have designed the garden layout very differently especially as there are many plants that are positioned in places I won’t have chosen. But learning to utilise what you have , and indeed learning to maximise and improve where possible is a worthwhile virtue applicable to every part of life. Over the last five years I have added to my garden collection with plants of my choice. It is always a joy to see what you have put in the soil yourself , develop, flourish and mature. Gardening brings so much lasting satisfaction that one rarely gets from other hobbies. I’ve got so many stories about buying plants and watching them blossom that I’ll reserve for a future blog article very soon.

Another plant at its peak this week in my garden is the Spirea arguta (Bridal wreath) also pictured.

Spirea arguta

To be honest I had no idea what it’s name was till last week when I decided to write about it so investigated further. Again, not one I originally planted but I so love it’s pretty and delicate cluster of flowers. I kind of see where it gets its name from as its feels and look very spiral but at the same time looks like a brides’s wreath. It’s little white flowers on a thin spiral branch form a stunning visual , flowering in mid Spring . Spirea arguta or Bridal Wreath is one of the hardiest of deciduous flowering shrubs. Best planted in deep fertile soil it can grow up to 2.5m in height.

Bridal Wreath

Both of these two plants – Red Robin and Bridal Wreath do not require any major care apart from the photina which needs pruning.They are an ideal choice for anyone who doesn’t have loads of time to garden but wants the reward of a thriving garden

These past two weeks have seen many in the UK enjoy a spot of warm weather. It’s felt more summer than spring and being typically ‘British’ many have been spotted in shorts and sandals, not that I blame them. It’s also been an opportunity to do some much needed weeding in the garden. I have a few projects I plan to do this spring, which I’ll be featuring on my projects section of the blog so look out for that. This week I have found myself being more observant of creation and all the beautiful things around me. It often helps to pause for a moment and appreciate beauty even amidst the busyness of life, you might be surprised to see red robins or brides….

Copyright 2016 Rachel McIlvenna


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