The Cottage Smallholder

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Flowers from the garden: November 2008

Photo: Mahonia flower arrangement

Photo: Mahonia flower arrangement

Oops. It’s now December and I’ve forgotten to post November flowers from the garden. But during November I did cast a beady eye around and spotted that the Mahonia x media ‘Charity’ was in bud and now it’s started to open.

This is a beautiful shrub that enjoys a shady spot and can survive in most neglected UK gardens.

I know this as I visit different houses and their gardens on a regular basis. We have counted and these visits averages around 70 a year. An amazing opportunity to meet new people and examine their houses and gardens.

Some gardens are vast and others are just a few steps to the boundary. Most have a Mahonia tucked away somewhere. It’s a strong shrub with very prickly leaves that will flourish almost anywhere. The scent of its flowers has clearly encouraged 98% of the population to plant it.

A wise move.

In a fully stocked bed, it will range to find the light but it’s not a bully. Even if you ignore it, Mahonia will give you berries in the summer (they can be used to make jelly) and wonderful, fragrant flowers from November to January.

Last year Joanna suggested cutting some flowering stalks to bring indoors. Today I snipped off an entire head – this will mean two new ones next year. Meanwhile the kitchen is filled with the scent of sweet Mahonia. Thank you Joanna, much appreciated. I would have never thought of bringing the flowering stems indoors. It is paired with the leaves from Elaeagnus x ebbingei ‘Limelight’, the flower arranger’s dream shrub.

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  1. Thanks for that, it looks like just what I need.

  2. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Joanna

    Elaeagnus is super for flower arranging and this one is pretty in winter as it looks as if sunshine is falling on the leaves. Slow growing though.

    Hi Jane B

    There is a very good recipe for Mahonia berrie here

    They shrub is known as Oregon Grape elsewhere so that’s probably why you’vr had difficulty finding a recipe.

  3. I noticed you mentioned that jelly can be made from the Mahonia berries. I’ve heard this from several places but have never found a recipe – I don’t suppose you have one?

  4. Fiona, I saw your photo and thought, I must go out and pick some mahonia … and then I read your post – thanks for kind words, and for the link. It looks lovely with that elaeagnus, I don’t have any of that, and I think I should, so thanks for your inspiration 😉


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