Silk Tassel/Garrya Elliptica ‘James Roof’
When seeking a plant for a shady corner of a terrace, one can rarely better the evergreen Garrya elliptica ‘James Roof’. As a short-term containerized plant, it can give pleasure for a year or two, but it will only come into its full glory when planted inas a wall shrub. Use small plants in ornamental pots by burying them, complete with growing pot, to their necks in or peat; this plant dislikes root disturbance, and by this method you can limit any likely root damage. The Silk Tassel is a wonderful plant for any aspect of wall, except one facing South; it is a freestanding plant, and from December to February this cultivar – the male plant – is decked with great curtains of greyish-green tassels. The spent catkins stay on the plant to early Summer and are not particularly attractive, which must be borne in mind when siting the plant. The leathery leaves are tough and will tolerate salt-laden seaside air and much atmospheric pollution, but will blacken if exposed to icy winds in Spring.
Grow this fully frost- hardy plant outside: it is not a plant for indoor culture. The less harsh the growing temperature, the longer the catkins are likely to be.
Grow out of direct sun, where it will not be exposed to any searing winds in Winter and early Spring. It grows well in shade.
This plant will thrive in soil/compost which is just moist;in containers thoroughly once the top 2cm (3/4in) of the compost is dry. The Silk Tassel dislikes very wet soil, but newly-planted shrubs should be well watered for the first month.
As an outdoor plant, the Silk Tassel has no need of extra humidity. If grown in a container for a couple of seasons, this plant will survive with no extra feed, as it grows best in poorer soils. If a plant is kept in a container for longer than this, top-dress it with a general-purpose fertilizer in Spring.
Grow in a good-quality, loam-based compost: avoid repotting if possible, but if it proves necessary repot very carefully, avoiding any root damage, in late March. Plant outside in well-prepared soil, allowing room for growth.
If G. e. ‘James Roof’ becomes too large, prune it back in March or April.
Leaf burn will result from cold winds.
Excessive cold appears to restrict catkin production.
Pests: Wall-grown shrubs offer a haven for all sorts of sap-sucking pests: eradicate these – mostly Aphids – as soon as possible before Sooty Mould has a chance to grow on the honeydew (excreta) and disfigures the plant’s appearance.