Wisley's plant of the month for September

A cultivated variety of our native spindle tree brings shocking colours to the garden

Euonymus europaeus 'Red Cascade' AGMIn the last glow of summer as it slips into autumn, there are a number of plants that take their turn centre in the spotlight. Dahlias, asters, numerous grasses, cyclamen and colchicums – they all enliven the garden. And so do the trees. It could be argued that their true beauty comes in October but even from mid-August there are some specimens that are taking on the baton. In particular is the spindle tree Euonymus europaeus ‘Red Cascade’ AGM.

Down on Seven Acres, when you take the path from the Pines that leads in towards the smaller lake, take a look on the left. Above a carpet of pink and purple verbena and young plantings of the brightly coloured Cotinus coggygria [Golden Spirit] =’Ancot’ AGM, you’ll see the stunning autumnal beauty Euonymus europaeus ‘Red Cascade’.

From late summer onwards, the leaves gradually take on a reddish tinge until the tree is a blaze of deep red. At the same time, the tree’s fruits become increasingly pink. Eventually, they split to reveal amazingly-coloured seeds: bright pink and orange – who’d have thought it? 

It’s an easy, informal and relatively small tree or large bush (up to about 3m/10ft) that really adds to the interest of the garden at this time of year.

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