Friday, 21 December 2012


My friends Ann and John Pimm have a lovely Cotoneaster in their Charwelton garden. This is a difficult genus in terms of identification but I'm pretty certain that their specimen is Cotoneaster x watereri. Around Christmas time the scarlet berries of holly are much prized but this hybrid Cotoneaster is equally fine.

Birds enjoy the fruit and this alone is a good reason for the wildlife gardener to include a specimen - or there are hundreds of smaller alternatives available from this genus if space is at a premium.  However, this is not the only reason for including one of these in the garden; their creamy flowers attract very large numbers of insects, particularly Honey Bees. Your local bee-keepers will be ever in your debt!

Cotoneaster is a large genus of around 80 to 150 species (depending on the criteria used). Something like forty species are now naturalised in Britain, and are found on railway embankments, waste ground and so on. However one member of the genus is native to Britain. This is Cotoneaster integerrimus, a rare plant found only on Great Orme's Head, near Llandudno.

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