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When we bought this house, there were already some unusual and interesting, fully mature specimens of bushes and trees.  We are working to preserve them, but some are so mature as to be growing into the ones close by, so with pruning and attention, we hope to keep the originals, just thinned down.  It's so sad and actually hurts to cut back some of these mature plants...


Harry Lauder Walking Stick

Corylus avellana L. 'Contorta'

This unusual European hazelnut was found around 1850 growing in a hedgerow in England. It has been propagated by cuttings and grafting ever since. The plant has become commonly known as "Harry Lauder's Walking Stick" or "Contorted Hazelnut."

The stems and leaves naturally twist and turn as they grow. The plant would normally grow as a sprawling bush, but if it is grafted onto a 4 ft. tall upright stock (Corylus colurna L. is a good non-suckering rootstock) it forms a very ornamental specimen tree.

Our Harry Lauder Walking Stick tree
a mature specimen, 15-20 years old

 Walking Stick : This shrub reaches a height of 8'-10', with a similar spread. The flowers of Harry Lauder's walking stick are yellowish-brown "catkins," as on pussy willows. The blooms appear in early to middle spring. However, this shrub is not grown primarily for its blooms but for its unusual branching pattern, which is indicated by its other common names: corkscrew filbert and contorted hazelnut. For as you can see from the picture, its branches contort themselves in every which way, resembing corkscrews.

Sun and Soil Requirements for Harry Lauder's Walking Stick : Grow Harry Lauder's walking stick in well-drained soil, in full sun to part shade.

Care of Harry Lauder's Walking Stick: Being a grafted shrub, Harry Lauder's walking stick does require some special care. The rootstock is Corylus colurna. As often happens with grafted plants, there is a tendency for suckers to shoot up from the rootstock. You must prune off these suckers so that the plant does not revert to the characteristics of its rootstock.

How Harry Lauder's Walking Stick Got Its Name: According to Adele Kleine of "Flower and Garden Magazine," the shrub's "appealing common name derives from the old Scottish comedian Harry Lauder who performed using a crooked branch as a cane."

Uses for Harry Lauder's Walking Stick in Landscape Design: Harry Lauder's walking stick is a specimen plant. The corkscrew shape of its branches lends much-needed visual interest to the winter landscape.

More on Harry Lauder's Walking Stick: Harry Lauder's walking stick is a case in which one may rightly claim that a deciduous shrub truly comes into its own only after its leaves have fallen. Not that the shrub isn't attractive when fully leafed out. But the eye is especially drawn to this curious specimen in winter, when many other deciduous trees and shrubs are little better than sad reminders of a defunct fall and summer.

Harry Lauder Walking Stick, trunk
the contorted and twisted limbs form a garden showpiece

view of the twisted trunk
the limbs are corky, twisted and picturesque in winter

 What is Harry Lauder's walking stick?

By Chelsie Vandaveer

March 11, 2005

At one time, shrubs and trees were planted to separate fields or fields from roads. These hedgerows divided land in a gracious, idyllic way. They were a mix of useful plants neighbors could share—willows for basketry, berries and nuts. A modicum of maintenance kept the hedgerow, a hedgerow. Wildflowers grew there; birds and small animals had refuge in the midst of cultivated lands. The hedgerow stayed the same and yet it changed with the seasons and the passing of the years.

Sometime in the early 1860s, a curious shrub was noticed growing in a hedgerow in Gloucestershire. It was hazel like the hazels (Corylus avellana Linnaeus) that people had cultivated for hundreds of years. But it was different, its branches twisted and corkscrewed and wept. Not many years after the discovery of the contorted hazel, a boy was born at the north

His father died when Harry Lauder was twelve. He helped his mother support his seven siblings by working in a flax mill while he went to school. Later he worked in a coal mine and it must have been difficult to see the stars when one is in 'the pit'. But he clung to his dream—someday he would be a music hall entertainer.

Harry mixed comedy with music and made laughable, yet touchingly lovable characters for his songs—the stodgy Dame, the red-nosed slovenly Calligan, the kilted tight-fisted Roderick McSwankay.

By 1912, Harry was at the top. He was elected to the Rotary Club of Glasgow and his fame spread beyond England. In 1913, he entertained in America; in 1914, he was in Australia. While in Melbourne, the British Empire entered World War I. Harry's son, John left his father's tour and went to war.

Harry, too old to be a soldier, mobilized to do what he could do best, entertain. And entertain he did. Realizing that those soldiers and sailors maimed by the war would be left in poverty, Harry raised huge sums of money for their pensions. Then Harry did something crazy and the war office fought him on the very idea of it all. He took entertainment to the trenches and battlefields of France.

Harry and Ann never saw their son John alive again. In 1919, Harry was knighted for his charitable works. When World War II broke out, he launched himself into another round of entertaining the troops and raising funds. Harry Lauder died in 1950. Few alive today have even heard his name, but entertainers have kept alive the tradition he started—laughter and songs for soldiers and sailors far from home.

It was Harry's wild character, Roderick McSwankay that made the hazel famous. The decked-out Scotsman leaned on an equally crazy hazelwood cane. The shrub became known as Harry Lauder's walking stick.

Our dog, Jake, sits in shade
under Harry Lauder Walking Stick 'tree'

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May 22, 2005
Another rare find in our yard.  And now we must work to save this specimen.
Latin name: Berberis pinnata ssp. pinnata
Common name: California barberry
Family: Berberidaceae (Barberry)
We have a tree that sprouts these astonishing yellow blooms in early spring.  It produces berries later in the season, fall.  I've thought it a type of holly tree due to it's spiney and sharp leaves.  I've just learned it is a barberry variety. 
It took a lot of googling to find the specific type, but this is the type that I think it is,  Berberis pinnata ssp. pinnata.
It has to be older because it is not a shrub, but a small tree size.  My husband is not fond of it, as it was set in the middle of a small raised garden bed with no apparant other plantings.  So grass and weeds grow up around it and mowing it is difficult.  I've been most reluctant to remove it till I knew more about it. 


The beauty of this house and yard with all it's unusual plantings is that many are rare, expensive to purchase and quite mature.  So I'm careful to wait and see what is what before pulling up anything.  I enjoy this tree for it's vivid yellow blossoms, followed by berries as it brings color in both spring and fall. 
It's been loose in it's setting, rather wobbly and wiggly, and it got even more so this year.  We talked about moving it to another location and yesterday my husband pulled it out.  I set about a computer search for something else and linked my way to finding out this is a barberry, known for it's medicinal properties; known for it's yellow trunk and root which is used to make yellow dyes; and known for it's berries. 
I learned that it is now a protected species, due to a program by the US Government to eradicate the barberry species for a rust fungus it is said to have generated that harmed corn, wheat, oat crops.  Apparantly not too popular with the farmers.  It is not easily found, nor from what I read, easily cultivated or propagated. 
So, today, we went outside to try to put the tree back into the ground, and hope that it will foster root growth and live.  Being that it likes a woodsy and fire environment, I laid in a lot of the pruning cast-offs from the rhodies and ivy that already grow where the tree was located.  We will see if the tree lives, but, I'm not too optimistic.  We shall see if the root stump where the tree originally lived will sprout new growth.  I covered the stump area with same mulching. 
The previous owner, studied to be a practicing physician's assistant and had a practice in this county.  He was also trained as a Native American in the arts of medicine man practices.  I am guessing he was very deliberate in planting this specimen, knowing it's many useful properties.  I am not thinking this barberry grows naturally here nor was easily obtained from local nursery. 
I do wish to save this tree, and if we aren't able to do that successfully, then I hope it can regenerate itself and put forth from the still intact buried root a new plant.  



Other varieties include Nepalese Barberry (Berberis aristata), Indian Barberry (Berberis asiatica), Mountain Grape Oregon Grape (Berberis aquifolium)
Botanical Name: Berberis vulgaris
Plant Family: Berberidaceae
Common Names: Berbery, European Barberry, Holy Thorn, Jaundice Berry, Pepperidge Bush, Sowberry
Origin: Found in England, Scotland, Ireland Europe, Northern Africa and the temperate parts of Asia.
Berberis is the Arabic name of the fruit meaning 'a shell'.
Medicinal use of Barberry dates back as far as ancient Egypt, when pharaohs and queens took it with Fennel seed to ward off the plague. In Egypt it is still used for fevers associated with pestilence.
Culpepper states, 'Mars owns the shrub'.
    * In Italy Barberry is called Holy Thorn as legend states that it was used in Jesus's Crown of Thorns
Medicinal Parts Used: Bark, root-bark, berries
. Barberries are sourer but less bitter than cranberries. Both the berries and the bark are used for medicinal purposes.
The stem, root bark, and fruit of barberry contain chemicals called isoquinoline alkaloids (berberine is a type of isoquinoline alkaloid), which are the main active ingredients of barberry. Laboratory studies suggest that these substances have antimicrobial (for example, antibacterial and antiparasitic), anti-inflammatory, immune-stimulant, fever reducing, hypotensive (causing a reduction in blood pressure), sedative, anticonvulsant, and smooth muscle effects. Smooth muscles line the gastrointestinal tract; therefore, this last effect may help improve digestion and reduce stomach pain. Barberry extracts are standardized to contain 8% to 12% isoquinoline alkaloids.
    * albumin
    * Berbamine
    * Berberine, a yellow, crystalline bitter alkaloid
    * fat
    * gum
    * other alkaloidal matter
    * Oxyacanthine
    * resin
    * tannin
    * wax
    * starch
    * citric acid
    * malic acid
    * antiseptic [an agent for inhibiting the growth of microorganism on living tissue or destroying pathogenic or putrefactive bacteria]
    * bitter stomachic tonic [applied to bitter tasting drugs which act on the mucous membranes of the mouth and stomach to increase appetite and promote digestion]
    * febrifuge [an agent that reduces or eliminates fevers]
    * hepatic [a drug that acts on the liver]
    * laxative [an agent promoting evacuation of the bowels; a mild purgative]
    * purgative [an agent that produces a vigorous emptying of the bowels, more drastic than a laxative or aperient]
    * tonic [an agent that tones, strengthens and invigorates organs or the entire organism giving a feeling of well-being]  
    * antiscorbutic [a source of Vitamin C for curing or preventing scurvy]
    * astringent [a binding agent that contracts organic tissue, reducing secretions or discharges of mucous and fluid from the body]
    * laxative [an agent promoting evacuation of the bowels; a mild purgative]
    * refrigerant [an agent that lowers abnormal body heat, relieves thirst and gives a feeling of coolness]
Barberry is used for:
Barberry and goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) have very similar therapeutic uses because both herbs contain active substances called berberine alkaloids. These substances have been shown to combat infection and bacteria, stimulate the activity of the immune system, and lower fever.
Infection and Skin disorders
For this reason, barberry is used to ease inflammation and infection of the urinary, gastrointestinal, and respiratory tracts (such as pharyngitis [sore throat], sinusitis, rhinitis [nasal congestion], bronchitis and, traditionally, tuberculosis) as well as candida (yeast) infections of the skin or vagina. Barberry extract may also improve symptoms of certain skin conditions including psoriasis, but further studies are needed to confirm these findings.
Barberry may also be an effective treatment for diarrhea (including traveler's diarrhea and diarrhea caused by food poisoning). A few studies have suggested that barberry improves symptoms faster than antibiotics but may be less effective than the drugs in clearing bacterial organisms out of the intestines. Because of the serious consequences associated with bacterial diarrhea, if barberry is used to ease symptoms, it is best to take the herb along with standard antibiotic therapy for this condition.
use barberry to reduce diarrhea in children. For this reason, barberry should be used with caution in children and only under the supervision of a qualified healthcare practitioner.
Barberry (as a single herb) should not be taken for more than five to seven days, but it may be used for longer periods if taken in combination with other herbs recommended by a qualified healthcare practitioner. Three to five days is generally sufficient for an upset stomach.
For sore throats, bladder infections, diarrhea, bronchitis, or yeast infections:
    * Tea: 2 to 4 grams of dried root steeped or 1 to 2 tsp of whole or crushed berries steeped in 150 mL (approximately 2/3 of a cup) of hot water for 10 to 15 minutes three times daily
    * Tincture: 3 to 6 mL (1/2 to 1 1/2 tsp three times daily)
    * Dry extracts: 250 to 500 milligrams three times daily
    * For skin disorders: 10% extract of barberry in ointment, applied to the skin three times daily
It is important to remember that some infections can be very dangerous if not treated with standard antibiotics. Barberry should not be taken in place of a prescription antibiotic.

Brain and Nervous System Conditions
    * produces a sense of well-being
    * promotes vigor
Cardiovascular Conditions
    * dilates blood vessels
    * high blood pressure
Gastrointestinal Conditions
    * constipation (larger doses)
    * diarrhea
    * dyspepsia
    * heartburn
    * improves appetite
    * regulates digestion
    * relieves upset stomach,
Immune System Conditions
Inflammatory Conditions
    * inflammatory fevers, like typhoid
Liver Conditions
    * biliary disorders
    * biliousness
    * functional derangement of the liver
    * gallbladder disease
    * jaundice
    * liver complaints
    * secretes bile
Respiratory Tract Conditions
It is used as a gargle for:
    * mouth and throat irritation
    * relieving pyorrhea
    * sore throat
    * strengthening the gums
Other Conditions
    * debility in general
    * intermittent fevers
    * reduces fever
    * spleen problems
    * scurvy
Externally Barberry as been used as a lotion/ointment for:
    * cutaneous eruptions
Other Uses:
    * jelly
    * pickles
    * the inner bark of the stems boiled with alum will dye linen yellow
    * the ripe berries can be used to make jam
    * the roots boiled in lye will dye leather yellow
Those using normal and appropriate doses of barberry do not generally report side effects. Cases of nosebleeds and vomiting have been reported with extremely high doses of this herb.
Pregnant women should not take barberry because it may cause uterine contractions and trigger miscarriage.


Our Lilac Tree
we lost 2 of it's 4 trunks this year, 2005.

From a really neat old gardening book at the Goodwill.  The first edition was published in 1944. Here are some of the things said about why lilacs don't bloom and what to try:
1.  Some lilacs do NOT bloom every year. There may be one year of profuse blooming, then several years with sparse blooms.
2. Buds may form but not mature because of summer drought.
The less sunshine they have, the fewer the blooms.
4. There may be too many young suckers at the base. Prune some of them out.
5. Transplanting a lilac may set the blooming back for years.
Things that can be tried to encourage blooming:
1. Thin some of the branches out at the base.
2.  Apply limestone if the soil is too acid.
3.  Root prune in early spring. Dig a 2' ditch around the plant. Into the soil that is removed mix superphosphate, about 8oz to every 3' of ditch, then return the soil to the ditch.
4.  Drastic pruning could be tried, cutting to the entire shrub to the ground. It certainly won't bloom for three years, but this may encourage stronger growth that will bloom later.

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Our Fuschia Tree, fully mature
Fuschia tree Fuschia arborescens

Fuschia Tree   Fuschia Arborescens
When we bought this house, this flowering fuschia bush was already quite mature.  I knew it was some kind of fuschia due to the delicate fushia flowers, and my mother called it a wild fuschia bush.   When I went to learn it's name and species, the internet was not very yielding so it took hours to finally locate it. 
There was Fuschia Flowering Gooseberry but that has flat, shiny green leaves, and this bush has slender leaves.  There was Cape Fuschia and that was closer but the flowers on that are more trumpet like so close but not quite.  Finally I found it as Fuschia Tree or Fuschia Arborescens.

close up view of the fuschia flowers
on Fuschia Tree or Fuschia Arborescens

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Camelia 'bush' must be 20 years old.  We thought it was plantings of several different camelias all grown together forming one expansive spread.  Once we got to trimming it this year, we learned it was only 1 bush!   It must have been growing for a couple of decades! 
While it is healthy and forms beautiful pink flowers and serves as a hedge creating some privacy for the lower bay windows, it spreads out across the yard almost into the Lilac tree.  We wanted to cut it back some this year, and once the cutting started, there was no graceful way to find stopping point.  What was exposed were the long limbs that had grown outward over the years.  What we wound up with is a stump of the original camelia with just one formation left.  I hope it will grow back and be as beautiful as it once was, but I'm worried we may have over-pruned it.  Sigh.
That was sad for both of us as the chopping started.  We had to sit down and mourn our loss of the beautiful, mature camelia, and were almost sorry we started pruning it.  On the upside, there is now a new bed waiting for some new plantings and it really did open up the yard considerably.

Camelia bush hedge

another view of the camelia grown to hedge size

Pruned camelia
camelia pruned, the branches took up all the area now lined by brick semi-circle

there really was a nifty brick wall under all the camelia growth

pruning the camelia opened up the yard
but then so did I prune the Fuschia Tree and the Lilac lost 2 of it's trunks. Opened up the yard.

The camelia must have been 15-20 years mature
these are all the limbs pruned off the camelia. 4 piles of limbs!

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Is this a rhody or an azalea?

  Rhododendrons and Azaleas
The house has 7 mature rhodedendrons.  Some are vigorous and way overgrown and we had to seriously cut back the first year we were here.  Some though are either spindly by nature or not doing so well.  I am unable to tell if the vivid orange flowers on one is, in fact, a rhody or a very mature azalea. 
In the front yard garden there is a very mature rhody with pink blossoms.  We didn't want to cut it back, so my Sweetie trimmed it into a tree shape.  We wanted to be able to see the blossoms from the upstairs cupola.    The other rhodys in the side yard are your usual varieties.  The two spindly ones in the back of the side yard against the brick wall are either unhealthy, or not enough sun, or by their nature in this branchy, spindly shape.  They blossom though.  I have some things to learn yet about rhodys and azaleas.

Front House Garden
Mature Rhodedendrons. We aren't sure the orange blossom might be mature Azalea

Vivid orange blossoms
is it a rhodendron or a mature azalea? Thoughts

Our Weeping Norway Spruce
we guestimate it's age about 15-20 years

Weeping Norway Spruce
Detailed information on Weeping Norway Spruce 'Reflexa' (Picea abies)   
Family: Pinaceae (py-NAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Picea (PY-see-uh) (Info)
Species: abies (A-bees) (Info)
Cultivar: Reflexa
4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)
6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)
USDA Zone 3a: to -39.9 C (-40 F)
USDA Zone 3b: to -37.2 C (-35 F)
USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
Sun Exposure:
Unknown - Tell us
Bloom Color:
Bloom Time:
Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
Provides winter interest
Soil pH requirements:
5.1 to 5.5 (strongly acidic)
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)
Propagation Methods:
By grafting

Seed Collecting:
Seed collecting is not recommended for this plant; may not come true from seed

Another view of Weeping Norway Spruce
April 2005, new spring shoots or growth

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--Beware of Snapdragons--

--Gardens are not made by sitting in the shade--
--My husband said if I buy any more perennials he would leave me...gosh, I'm going to miss that man!--