Garden Bloggers’ Foliage Day – Evergreens in the new beds

Welcome to GBFD where I celebrate the job that foliage does in our gardens.  I believe that foliage is just as (maybe more) important than flowers.  

In an earlier post I showed you the inspiration for this part of the garden, it has already inspired some of the design in other parts of the garden.

Three cypresses are beginning to fill out a little, by next spring I should be able to cut their tops to create the look of La Louve

Three cypresses are beginning to fill out a little, by next spring I should be able to cut their tops to create the look of La Louve

Three cypresses in the Large island from a different angle

Three cypresses in the Large island from a different angle

This month I’d like to introduce you to some of the new evergreens I’ve being planted in the new beds created where ‘the formal garden’ used to be; now re-named the Evergreen borders.

Quercus suber The Cork oak

Quercus suber, Well staked and with a large watering space around it this already makes a statement in the gaden

Quercus suber, Well staked and with a large watering space around it this already makes a statement in the garden

Quercus suber is slow-growing and long-lived, some individuals surviving to 250 years of age. Cork oak landscapes are mosaics of forest habitats, comprising cork, holm and deciduous oak species, stone and maritime pines, wild olive trees, maquis (a type of Mediterranean shrubland), and pasture.

I will have to prune to tree to keep it from growing too large, but its slow growth rate means that this shouldn’t be a problem.

Quercus suber, small evergreen leaves

Quercus suber, small evergreen leaves

Quercus suber, the bark is already beautiful

Quercus suber, the bark is already beautiful

Cork oak bark has been harvested for thousands of years, and with good reason. The Romans discovered that it would float and used it for buoys in fishing nets, as well as for making sandals. Today it is most commonly known for its use in wine bottle corks.

Pistacia lentiscus

Pistacia lentiscus - this will be pruned into a tight sphere

Pistacia lentiscus – this will be pruned into a tight sphere

Pistacia lentiscus is a shrub or dioecious tree, with separate male and female plants, evergreen from 1 to 5 m high, with a strong smell of resin growing in dry and rocky areas of the Mediterranean. It resists heavy frosts and grows on all types of soils, and can grow well in limestone areas and even in salty or saline environments, making it more abundant near the sea.

The leaves are alternate, leathery, and compound paripinnate (no terminal leaflet) with five or six pairs of deep-green leaflets. It presents very small flowers, the male with five stamens the female trifid style. The fruit is a drupe, first red and then black when ripe, about 4 mm in diameter

Pistacia lentiscus - leaves

Pistacia lentiscus – leaves

The aromatic, resin, also known as mastic, is harvested as a spice from the cultivated mastic trees grown in the south of the Greek island of Chios, where it is also known by the name “Chios tears”. Originally liquid it is hardened, when the weather turns cold, into drops or patties of hard, brittle, translucent resin. When chewed, the resin softens and becomes a bright white and opaque gum.

Pistacia lentiscus - dupes

Pistacia lentiscus – dupes

As a spice, it continues to be used in Greece to flavour spirits and liquors (such as Chios’s native drinks of Mastichato and mastica), chewing gum, and a number of cakes, pastries and desserts. Sometimes it is even used in making cheese. Mastic resin is a key ingredient in Turkish ice cream and Turkish puddings, giving those confections their unusual texture and bright whiteness. In Lebanon and Egypt, the spice is used to flavour many dishes, ranging from soups to meats to desserts, while in Morocco, smoke from the resin is used to flavour water. In Turkey, mastic is used as a flavour of Turkish delight. Recently, a mastic-flavoured fizzy drink has also been launched, called “Mast”.

Mastic resin is a key ingredient in Greek festival breads, for example, the sweet bread tsoureki and the traditional New Year’s vasilopita. Furthermore, mastic is also essential to Myron, the holy oil used by the Orthodox Churches.

As well as its culinary uses, mastic continues to be used for its gum and medicinal properties. The resin is used as a primary ingredient in the production of cosmetics such as toothpaste, lotions for the hair and skin, and perfumes.

With thanks to Wikipedia for the above information.

Rhamnus alaternus

The evergreen Buck thorn is a large shrub or small tree, it copes well with drought and is cold hardy.  Can be clipped (which is what will happen to mine) and will form quick cover in a woodland situation.

Rhamnus alaternus

Rhamnus alaternus

Arbutus unedo

I wrote about the mature specimen in the garden last week.  I also planted a new specimen tree in the upper Drive border last winter which is positioned to hide houses from the view west.  I’ve planted four mini ‘lollipops’ around the central path; again these will be pruned to maintain a manageable size.  You can read more about this beautiful Mediterranean native here.

Arbutus unedo, one of four planted symmetrically around the central path

Arbutus unedo, one of four planted symmetrically around the central path, its fruits have fallen on the ground, maybe some birds have been pecking them.

Quercus ilex, Holm Oak, Holly Oak

I have planted two trees and two large shrubs, all will be clipped.  Quercus ilex is THE evergreen tree in my area, commonly known as ‘Lecce’.  It is a very slow growing, long lived oak.  Actually it isn’t all that slow slowing, I planted medium sized shrubs at the top of the slope to form a shelter belt from the summer wind and they are now very large shrubs.  It is the tree seen in the parkland of some of the famous historic gardens in the area; at Villa Lante, just a few kilometres away there are examples that date to when the formal garden was planted there in 1555.

Quercus ilex - I don't want this to become too much taller but would like a beautiful sphere of foliage on a thick trunk

Quercus ilex – I don’t want this to become too much taller but would like a beautiful sphere of foliage on a thick trunk

The mushroom you can see in the background is a Death cap, I’ve no idea how it arrived in the garden but I’m afraid to touch it!

Quercus ilex - the large tree and the shrub in the right foreground

Quercus ilex – the large tree and the shrub in the right foreground

Quercus ilex - foliage You can see the holly-like foliage from which it takes one of its common names Holly Oak

Quercus ilex – foliage
You can see the holly-like foliage from which it takes one of its common names Holly Oak

Quercus ilex - the acorns from this tree were known as the food of the gods in Greek mythology

Quercus ilex – the acorns from this tree were known as the food of the gods in Greek mythology

To finish here the only deciduous tree in the garden that gives some orange autumn colour, I’ll write more about the new deciduous trees I’ve planted in the new woodland walk next time.

Autumn colour from Persimmon

Autumn colour from Persimmon on the Slope

What autumn (or spring) colour do you have in your garden?  Is there some beautiful foliage you’d like to share?  To join in please just leave a link to and from this post, I look forward to reading your posts. Christina

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38 thoughts on “Garden Bloggers’ Foliage Day – Evergreens in the new beds

  1. A great choice of trees and it’s interesting to learn more about them too, thanks Christina. I love the cork oak, what fabulous bark.
    If you’ll forgive me I won’t join in this month, we’ve been away.

    • The information about the mastic is interesting as I have a friend who comes from Cypress and she makes pastries with it, it has a very subtle but distinctive taste. Thanks for joining in thus month Susie.

  2. The bark of your cork oak is beautiful. I admired your Arbutus last week, and it will be lovely for you to see more flowering and producing berries in autumn and winter. A really interesting read about the mastic resin too.

    • I’ve always loved the Arbutus and this year it is looking better than ever before, it is also nice to see that the new plants have flowers. Have you ever used the mastic resin, it is used a lot in Greek baking.

      • I must admit I had never heard of it Christina, but will look up the translation and see if it’s available anywhere here to try out. I’d love to try making Turkish Delight one day.

  3. So many lovely trees you have planted. The oaks are particularily wonderful and will give your garden years and years of beauty. I really like the contrast of these against your three cypress. The mastic resin info was interesting and made me wonder if that is the link for our word to chew or masticate.

  4. Thanks for an interesting post! I enjoyed reading about Pistacia lentiscus and its mastic resin. The Quercus suber has fascinating bark and leaves. Each plant you featured has special qualities, and I know they will contribute a lot of character and beauty to your garden. I am eager to see a long view of your new space!

  5. You have some beautiful trees Christina, I really like the Quercus suber bark, I can imagine thats irresistibly tactile and must of been very rewarding to plant.

  6. A beautiful selection with all those broadleaf evergreens! I look forward to seeing your deciduous choices as well. The cork oak is wonderful. And now I can see your Pistacia lentiscus – do you recall (about a year ago, I think) your very polite head’s-up that I had misidentified the tree at the back of our property? You were quite right; it was not P. lentiscus; it instead proved to be Schinus terebinthifolius. I’d like to try the Pistacia sometime as well…
    My November GBFD post features some of the handful of autumn colour I have managed to get into this garden: http://www.smallsunnygarden.blogspot.com/2015/11/garden-foliage-in-november.html

    • I’m glad I was right about your tree, identification of trees isn’t my strong point but I did have a very small Pistacia bush so I did know what the foliage was like. Thanks for joining in this month Amy, I look forward to seeing your autumn foliage.

      • I was unable to get comments through on most WP blogs for a month or more – with quite a few bloggers finding my comments in their spam bins later! Just thought it had happened again since my comments here disappeared as soon as I had posted them 😉

        • The other comments arrived fine but this one was in the Spam so you were right to be worried. I always check the spam every so often to empty it; this is the first time I’ve found one of your comments there.

  7. You’ve made some great additions to your garden, Christina. Although I have 2 persimmon trees, which have provided wonderful fall color in our garden in the past, one never colored up at all this year and the other has only the faintest color to offer. The unyielding warmer-than-normal temperatures are almost certainly to blame. Even my reliable ornamental pear (Pyrus calleryana) has shown little color thus far.

    • After rain and strong winds on Saturday most of the trees have lost their leaves without showing very much colour, just some yellow, but nothing very spacial. The persimmon is the only tree that shows any orange and that doesn’t last long.

  8. Your garden is always a delight to see. Thanks so much for sharing. You have some really fascinating plants. I loved learning about the cork and the mastic resin. I am going to have to see if I can track down some Turkish ice cream!

  9. What a wonderful selection of evergreens you have planted, they made such an interesting post and I will look forward to seeing them growing. At last I know what a mastic tree is, when doing the reading at church, a mastic tree is mentioned in the book of Daniel, and I have never known what sort of tree it was, now I know, thanks to you!

    • It is always surprising the information one can find when looking for something else. I didn’t know how that the Pistacia was the tree that produced this crystal-like substance although I was given some by a friend. Thanks for joining GBFD this month as always Pauline.
      PS I’ve sent an email to you.

  10. Great variety of plants to keep your garden green through the winter. I think it’s very exciting you are growing cork oak. I like the holly oak also. Am I wrong or are there four cypresses in that second picture.

  11. You have been running this foliage meme for ages now, but you still find ways to make it fresh and interesting each month. A really interesting post and I just love the bark of your cork oak, beautiful!

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