Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Ginkgos with a Twist

I posted a photo of one of our variegated Ginkgos on our Facebook page yesterday and I was given a nudge by fellow blogger Gerhard to compose a blog post about our Ginkgo collection. I'm not a Ginkgo collector as such, we only have five varieties in our garden but I have a special interest in collecting the variegated forms of this beautiful tree.

Ginkgo bilobas are often found as beautiful and majestic trees in parks and public places and are renowned for its spectacular autumn colour when the leaves turn a vivid, golden yellow, drawing light and attention to the plant. And it looks just as good when the leaves are all shed and it carpets its surrounding area with an intense shade. But apart from its autumn colour it is very garden worthy plant with its lovely foliage and overall graceful habit.

Fantastic autumn colour! Photo taken of a specimen at Kew Gardens
However, despite its beauty I still find that is an underrated and underused plant, perhaps mainly to its reputation of reaching a gigantic size (hence unsuitable for most domestic gardens back gardens) but there are plenty of smaller growing varieties available out there that are suitable for even the smallest of gardens, and some of these varieties look great in a pot (Ginkgo biloba 'Troll' springs to mind). Even a balcony can accommodate this dwarf variety.

'Mariken' is a smaller variety that looks also looks good as a potted specimen
Autumn in a small pot: 'Troll'
As for the variegated types, for years there was only one variety available but recently several more have been cropping up in the market, and I'm hoping a few more will turn up in the coming years as I adore the variegated forms of Ginkgos. Plain green leaves of this conifer are great as it is but add stripes and gradients to it and for me it looks even better, Ginkgos with a pretty twist!

'Variegata'
Ginkgo biloba 'Variegata' is the first one to come out and has been available for quite some time now. It is also known by other names (like 'Majestic Butterflies', etc) depending upon where it is sold but essentially they are the same with leaves randomly striped white/cream and occasionally throws out half/half and all white leaves too. It's one of my favourite plants in the garden and one of the most complimented by visitors. Even I cannot help but stop and marvel at the leaves whenever I pass by it and could easily spend lots of time taking close up photos of its foliage.

'Variegata'
'Variegata'

Ginkgo biloba 'California Sunset' is one of the more recent variegated types to have been introduced and looks distinct with the random white/cream striping occurring instead on fastigiate leaves. A beautiful plant with a weeping habit with the leaves swaying gracefully whenever a breeze passes by. For some reason I couldn't find any of the photos I took of my plant last year so I will have to borrow some from the net.

'California Sunset' (source)


'Beijing Gold'
Ginkgo biloba 'Beijing Gold' is another recent variegated introduction with much smaller leaves that emerge as bright yellow in the spring, gradually developing a gradient from yellow to light green towards the base of the leaf by late spring, then becomes stripy green and white in the summer, before turning bright yellow again the autumn, fantastic! A gorgeous plant that lights up it's own spot, you get that bright yellow tone in the spring and it's interesting to watch how the colour of the leaves change through the rest of the season.

'Beijing Gold'
'Beijing Gold'
I find that all of the variegated types are slow growing, with the 'Variegata' and 'California Sunset' best sited in a bright spot with indirect sun to avoid scorching of the leaves. The 'Beijing Gold' seems not to mind full sun with the yellow colour becoming more intense with sun exposure. So far I only have the 'Variegata' planted out and it has been for a few years now, I find that it is slow to gain height, about 2" a year! With such a slow growth rate I reckon it is suitable for permanent planting in even the smallest of gardens, in a prominent spot or to the front of a border to best appreciate its beauty.

Ginkgos look great in most styles of gardens, including exotic ones. And every garden should make room for at least one Ginkgo. And if so I highly recommend one the variegated ones!

Mark :-)

20 comments:

  1. Yay for variegated Ginkgos! I honestly don't think I would have ever bought one, but to have one given to me as a gift is a very wonderful thing.

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  2. You're lucky Loree, and very generous of that person :)

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  3. Really cool post! I love "California Sunset', not just because of the variegation but also because of the shape of the leaves. Around here Gingkos are incredibly common as street trees but one never sees any of the variegated forms, at least so far.

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  4. I didn't know I had such powers of persuasion :-). Needless to say I enjoyed this post tremendously.

    I actually love the fact that variegated ginkgos are so slow-growing. That allows me to enjoy them for a long time in our small garden. I will definitely add more cultivars this year!

    Gerhard
    :: Bamboo and More ::

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  5. I love your variegated ginkgo, it is just not thriving in hotter climes. Do you know that its fruits is famous for maintaining good memory? However, my friend saw it in New Zealand and said its ripening fruits falling on the ground smell awfull. I just don't know if all ginkgos are like that. Yes, all variegated plants are slower in growth than normal because they have less chlorophyll for photosynthesis manufacturing their food.

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  6. Wow! I always thought Ginkgo refers to those special ginger types roots used in Thai cuisine!! Dumb me...

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  7. Your collection is just beautiful! I, too, have decided that they are going to have a home in my little garden, and since they grow so slowly, my heirs can figure out what to do when their size becomes a problem!

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  8. Same here College Gardener, the shape of the leaves are very attractive. Maybe some time in the not so near future variegated forms will be seen as street plantings too. Or maybe not :)

    You've given me an instant idea then Gerhard,thanks! :)I think their slow growing nature is a definite plus!

    Andrea, Ginkgos won't thrive in a tropical climate indeed but in temperate areas they are fabulous garden plants, public and private :)

    KL, I suppose it's mainly because you hear Ginkgos a lot now in health stores and natural food shops :) It's worth introducing one in your garden especially the smaller growing varieties.

    Thanks Tim! Glad to know you've decided to plant one in your garden. I think the slow growing nature of the variegated types is a definite plus, we can plant them out and not worry that it will overtake and outgrow its space very quick :)

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  9. Who knew? I thought there was only the common or garden variety. I've planted one out on the meadow at the Priory and I have a (sort of) bonsai one that I've owned for about ten years now. You made me chuckle: "I'm not a Ginkgo collector as such, we only have five varieties in our garden." That's four more varieties than I have!
    Dave

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  10. Dave, now that you've pointed it out it made me laugh too! That's the plant lover in me, never stopping at one! You should introduce more at the Priory, especially with all that space, superb! :)

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  11. I had no idea you could get smaller-growing ginkgos, so thank you for that - though we part ways when it comes to variegation, which I view as an abomination ;-)

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  12. But variegates are lovely Janet, lol! Well not all of them but I do like the ginkgo ones, as well as loads more others. But there are also horrible ones...

    Fascinating about this divide amongst gardeners between variegate and non variegate fans :)

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  13. I'm glad I read this post. I love Gingkos but didn't know there were any kinds other than the large ones we see and admire in parks. We are about to pass on two cordylines because they have grown too big for their pots and pots bigger than they are in would be ridiculous. I'll look into replacing one with Ginkgo biloba 'Variegata'. (Trouble is, a quick trawl round the internet suggests they are out of stock everywhere. Your post must have created a surge in demand!)

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  14. Great post, I find it hard to understand why after so many years of admiring Ginkgo we never did introduce it to our garden. I didn't even know that there were variegated forms, fabulous! Ah well they say its never to late.

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  15. I did not know there are variegated gingkos, and I did not know there are dwarf gingkos. I will definitely look for these. Yours are fabulous!

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  16. Zoot guys - you have go some collection though the troll one looked a bit scarey. How big does the gorgeous varietated one grow...proper tree size or dwarvish Hildebrand?

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  17. Esther, Ginkgos would look great in your pots! Some of the dwarf varieties would be suitable, slow growing too and you can even prune them to shape every so often. Variegated ones are much more readily available now and shouldn't be difficult to source one in the next few months. You are likely to even find one now in one of the plant fairs later in the year :)

    Alistair, never too late indeed! A pleasure to know I'm able to introduce this wonderful plant to other plant lovers. Should do absolutely fine in your garden too :)

    Thanks Debs! You must introduce one or two in your fabulous woodland garden :)

    Thanks Catharine, but the troll is a lot more gentle than it looks, hehe! :) I'm no too sure about the final height of the variegated one as it's fairly new so no mature trees yet to ascertain (and it will be awhile before anyone finds out). I can say though that it is very slow growing, we get about 2" a year on the one we planted out. With such a slow rate it does buy you lots of time so I reckon it's suitable for even a small plot.

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  18. Amazing photos. This tree will not survive in my climate zone, but I have some of these trees in pots.
    In wintertime they stay in the cellar whith figs and some roses.
    Have a nice day.

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  19. Hi Hans, glad you enjoyed the photos. We all have our ways of getting plants to survive the winter. Sadly we do not have a cellar, but we do have an outbuilding we can keep more borderline plants in during the cold weather.

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  20. I think your post just convinced me that I really do need a variegated Ginko. "Beijing Gold" looks like the sort of plant I'd obsess over constantly...now to find one for sale...

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