Charles Williams' Letter to The Plantsman Magazine
The authors of the excellent and informative article on Enkianthus (The Plantsman n.s. 10(2): 78–85) refer to four cultivars of E. campanulatus, ‘Venus’, ‘Vesta’, ‘Victoria’ and ‘Virgo’, which, sadly, they have yet to see. I can assure them they are in for a very pleasant surprise when they do! We grow all four of these on a hot, sunny, north-facing bank with limited shelter at Caerhays Castle; they were originally purchased from the Dutch nursery, Esveld, in Boskoop, about 10 years ago. All are now 2–3m tall and flower prolifically each year.
Moving on to a different species, as most Enkianthus enthusiasts know, many plants of Enkianthus cernuus f. rubens recently sold in the UK, and which largely originate from the Netherlands, are not true to name. The flowers may be red (or reddish) but they do not have dissected calyx lobes. However, an early import of E. cernuus f. rubens at Caerhays which dates from the 1920s or earlier has rather smaller and darker coloured flowers than those shown on the front cover of The Plantsman. The arrangement of the flowers in their trusses is also different and it is a fairly dwarf, spreading and tiered plant. Nevertheless, individual flowers do all have the requisite dissected calyx. I wonder whether this amount of variation is acceptable in a species, or is there more to unravel?
Charles Williams, Caerhays Castle Garden, Cornwall
Enkianthus at Caerhays Castle Garden, Cornwall
1 Enkianthus campanulatus ‘Venus’ - reserve
for October 2011
2 Enkianthus campanulatus ‘Vesta’
3 Enkianthus campanulatus ‘Victoria’ - buy now
4 Enkianthus cernuus f. rubens, an early import