Green is the new black

At this time of the year there seems to be a green haze in the air as trees cloak themselves in their finery of foliage

​Aesculus indicaOn a trip to Cornwall last week I noticed how everything had put on so much growth and couldn’t help wondering if the landscape would look similar when I got back to RHS Garden Hyde Hall in the east of the country. Well, it certainly did, from the lime greens of ash to the darker green leaves of oak.

However, it's not just the colours that make these trees stand out, a closer look reveals fascinating leaf shapes, intricate flowers and cones.

Aesculus indica flowerAesculus indica (Indian horse chestnut) in the Shrub Rose Border provides a cheery show of shiny red-bronze to green leaves on red stems that look like half opened umbrellas or grass skirts. These leaves turn a mid-green colour and in summer the plant produces panicles of white or pink flowers.

A closer look at conifers

Taxodium distichum var. imbricarium ‘Nutans’The emerging leaves of Taxodium distichum var. imbricarium ‘Nutans’ (swamp cypress) really caught my eye. It is a deciduous conifer, which produces new shoots that stand to attention on the bare stems resembling giant green combs, as these shoots grow and get bigger they eventually droop down.

Pinus mugo 'Winter Gold'On a path edge in our Hilltop Garden is Pinus mugo ‘Winter Gold’ (dwarf mountain pine). This attractive small conifer is currently bearing jewel-like crimson-red immature female cones, which are nestled in a cluster of green upright shoots that look like tiny crowns. The female cones are joined by clusters of honey coloured male cones mainly situated on the lower branches. This is a pine that would be ideal in a small garden placed near the edge of a border where its beautiful intricacy can be appreciated.

Unusual fruits

Platanus x hispanicaOn Clover Hill a Platanus x hispanica (London plane) is transforming with its young, velvety green-grey, hairy leaves that eventually turn big and bright green. Green-pink tinged, rounded clusters of hanging fruit peep down and although visible at the moment they will soon become hidden under the leaves.

Fraxinus angustifolia 'Raywood'The emerging emerald-green leaves of Fraxinus excelsior ‘Aurea’ (golden ash) appear slightly later than the darker green leaves of Fraxinus angustifolia ‘Raywood’ and give an interesting colour contrast. Viewed from a distance, the landscape of ash trees together with oaks, cherries and horse chestnuts become an intricate tapestry of verdant greens.

When out and about or visiting RHS Garden Hyde Hall in late spring just remember to take time to look up into the trees for an exciting new perspective.

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The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.