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Winter Stems: Rubus and Acer

Winter Stems: Rubus and Acer

Winter Stems: Rubus and Acer

Rubus thibetanus

There are some wonderful ornamental Rubus, such as cockburnianus, R biflorus and R thibetanus. All of which have the most lovely stems in winter. Rubus like well-drained ground and as they are woodland edge plants they grow well on slopes, banks and trails, and are a good plant to help with soil erosion, and are low maintenance. They look good as part of a mixed border.

Rubus thibetanus is known as the Ghost Bramble or Silver Fern, due to it’s dark purple stems that are covered with white bloom. The leaves are green on top and silvery-white underneath. The stems are of an upright habit and arch, carrying small purple flowers that develop into black fruit (inedible). This deciduous, medium sized shrub grows to a height of 2m and is ideal under the light shade of trees.

Rubus cockburnianus ‘Goldenvale’ in the foreground

Rubus cockburnianus ‘Goldenvale,’ or the White Stemmed Bramble, is another showy bramble with bright golden yellow, fern-like leaves that fall during the autumn to reveal chalky white winter stems. Sparse, small purple flowers turn into black, inedible fruit. Grows up to 2.5m height, and won the RHS Award of Garden Merit in 1996. The white stems are perfect for using cuttings as Christmas decorations, though mind the prickles!

Red and yellow cornus with white stemmed Rubus biflorus at RHS Wisley

Rubus biflorus, or the Two Flowered Raspberry is a suckering, deciduous shrub with upright, prickly stems covered in white bloom. Left unpruned it can become a compact thicket, so annual pruning to ground level is advised, unless you want to create an impenetrable border. It grows to a height of 3m and does well under or near to trees. Of course, if you have a wild and free garden, leave them to run, and take pleasure on cold, winter days.

Pachysandra terminalis ‘Green Carpet’

Underplanting some of the above plants with ground cover such as Pachysandra terminalis (Japanese Spurge) contrasts well, but doesn’t thrive if the ground is too wet.

Acer pensylvanicum ‘Erythrocladum’

Acer pensylvanicum ‘Erythrocladum,’ or Red-barked/Moosewood Maple is a small upright tree with pink and gold tinged bark with chalky ridges. Young shoots are bright coral pink and can be encouraged by pruning every three to four years. The autumn leaf colour is yellow and certainly brightens up the garden. Height is between 8-12m, and the width is up to 8m, which takes between 20 and 50 years.