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Although this could very well be a picture of me finding a new treasure at a favorite nursery, it's actually an illustration by David Catrow for a children's book called Plantzilla.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Contorted

Fifteen years ago, when we moved to our current house, I brought with me this Contorted Filbert.  I had planted it in my previous garden a couple of years before and didn't want to leave it.   Planted outside my kitchen window, I see it every day. 


It's grown quite a bit in  the time it's been here.
 In the summer, it's covered in leaves and is an o.k. mass of green.  In the last few years, I've been clearing out some of the lower branches so we can enjoy the lovely structure beneath the umbrella of green.  Last summer, everytime I walked by a little bunch of leaves bonked me in the head.  Strange.  Upon closer investigation, I found that  the tree was producing nuts.  Very exciting for the damned squirrels who got them all!


It is in the winter, however, that this small tree really shines.  The leafless contorted branches look fabulous with snow on them, covered in ice, or simply naked.
Then in late winter, it dons catkins that quiver with the slightest breeze.   
One of these days, I'll plant some daffodils at it's feet so that they can lift their trumpets skyward to admire the show above and to echo the yellow color.
You can call it Corylus avellaria 'Contorta' or you can call it a contorted Filbert or even Harry Lauder's Walking stick.  From Wikipedia,  "An ornamental cultivar of Common Hazel has become known as Harry Lauder's Walking Stick or Corkscrew Hazel. It was noticed growing as part of a hedge in the 1800s and is now propagated by grafting. It gains this name from the fact Lauder regularly appeared with a crooked walking stick."  For more about Harry Lauder, you'll find the full article here.

Many of my favorite people and  things are just a little twisted!

24 comments:

  1. Love these! I have the burgundy leafed variety 'Red Majestic' and unfortunately have to remove it because it completely outgrew it's spot and is too large for a successful move. As I shuffle plants this spring I most likely will be on the lookout for a place where I can fit another because love it that much.

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    1. They are cool! I got a 'Red Majestic' a few years ago thinking that I'd replace this one but I love the way this one looks and it would take many years for the red-leaved one to catch up so the R.M. is in a huge pot waiting to find a spot somewhere.

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  2. Love this Peter! The twisted and contorted branches and overall form, with the catkins hanging down from all over, is so full of character and gives so much interest in the garden during winter.

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    1. It's a great plant and makes me smile.

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  3. I'm fascinated to see how well your contorted hazelnut has grown. I just bought 'Red Majestic' last year, and it seems to have survived the winter in its pot. I still am not quite sure where I want to plant it, I didn't realize it would eventually get so big, like yours, big enough to walk under. I love that it is also called "Harry Lauder's Walking Stick." I had an uncle from Scotland who used to dress up in a kilt at family gatherings and entertain the family with Harry Lauder's songs and stories.

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    1. Cisco says that they don't stay happy in pots for long but my 'Red Majestic' has been potted up at least three times in the five years I've had it. (Why rush into planting something in the ground?) Maybe I'll see if it fits in my car and schlep it down to the Portland plant exchange. Your uncle sounds like a fun fellow!

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  4. Beautiful! Especially with the catkins, smart move bringing it with you!

    (like the new header photo)

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    1. It's really cool this time of year. It makes me feel a little old because I remember a two foot tall baby in a 2 gallon pot. Glad you like the header. It's a sign that I saw for sale at Vassey a few days ago.

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  5. Now that's a tree with character! I can imagine the stories and poems created to match its twisted, unique shape. Awesome tree!

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    1. They're hardy to zone 4 so you could have one too! Thanks.

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  6. All kinds of contortions there, it does anchor the view of the garden nicely. Just a little twisted add fun.

    Like the new header too.

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    1. Glad you like the header. I won't have to change it seasonally if I don't want to. This is a fun plant!

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  7. I've never seen one so huge. How old is it (if you don't mind my asking)? I just bought a 'Red Dragon' Corylus, but it is just a baby in a five gallon pot...guess I should give it plenty of elbow room when I plant it out.

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    1. I bought it in a two gallon pot about 17 years ago, planted it then dug it up to bring it with me a couple of years later. Yup, it wants some space.

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  8. Sadly here, most have fallen victim to 'Filbert's blight' which can kill a healthy tree inside of a year. There was a fabulous one at LT which died over a single growing season. It now acts as a trellis for a pair of delightful Clematis.

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    1. This is awful news. I'm sorry for all who have lost such interesting plants! 'Red Dragon' is supposed to be resistant to the blight.

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  9. It is a beautiful tree. I love smooth texture of the bark and the catkins. Plus, you're making the squirrels happy!

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    1. It's very important to keep the squirrels happy or they'll plant my bulbs in everyone else's yards!

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  10. Such an extraordinary and beautiful tree. I haven't seen a tree like that before. Have a great Tuesday, Peter!

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    1. It is a wonderful tree and It brings me much joy. Thank you, Satu! I hope your Tuesday was wonderful!

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  11. Your tree is just gorgeous! It is a real beauty covered in those catkins. I have been wanting one of these for years! I don't know why I haven't ever hit the "purchase now" button before, but this post is making me regret that I never have. Maybe I'll find a spot for one this year.

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    1. I hope you get one as I think you'll love it. There are a couple of red leaved varieties that are relatively new and add some summer color to the equation.

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