Garrya elliptica makes a remarkably indestructible and attractive evergreen shrub on free-draining soil. It is at its best from midwinter to early spring when it is covered by a mass of dangling grey-green catkins, 15-20 cm (6-8 in) long. If you want even longer catkins, choose ‘James Roof’.
Garrya elliptica can also be grown as a dense bushy hedge, but should only be pruned and kept in shape once the display of catkins has finished. It grows ell in seaside gardens, but does not make a windbreak because it needs a sheltered position. When exposed to a flaying wind, it suffers badly.
Garrya elliptica is good for growing up walls and low maintenance, or in shrub borders in mild areas. Tolerates atmospheric pollution and coastal exposure. It may lose its leaves in colder winters.
Secrets of success
Soil: Well-drained/light, Clay/heavy, Acidic, Chalky/alkaline.
Hardiness: Frost hardy, but avoid exposed northern sites, where the leaves may get scorched by frost or harsh winds.
Flowering time: Midwinter to early spring.
Maintenance: Prune back dead or overlong branches in spring. Dislikes being transplanted so buy container grown plants. Generally pest free but may be affected by leaf spot.
Propagation: Best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. Very slow, the seed can take 2 or more years to germinate. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Take cuttings or layer shoots in summer.