Press – Rare Chinese tree flowers, for the 3rd time in 88 years

Blooming marvellous

Rare Chinese tree flowers, for only the 3rd time in 88 years 

Emmenopterys henryi

Emmenopterys henryi, a highly rare tree originating from China has teased us by only modestly flowering at Borde Hill Garden, for the third time in its 88 year history. The flowers are cream white and strongly scented with corolla white bracts. The deciduous tree is native to central and south-west China and was introduced to Britain in 1907 by the great plant hunter Ernest Wilson.

Borde Hill Garden, near Haywards Heath, planted a specimen in 1928 that was collected by George Forrest and the garden team are delighted to find the tree flowering once again. Its younger companion which was grown at the garden from seed collected by a Kew Gardens expedition in the 1980s has not flowered this year.

Described by Wilson as “one of the most strikingly beautiful trees of Chinese forests”, the Emmenopterys is notoriously shy to flower in the West. It has reddish-purple young shoots and striking red leaves in spring, which mature to a glossy green, producing a shock of small white flowers.

The first Emmenopterys to flower in the West was at Villa Taranto by Lake Maggiore, Italy, in 1971, while the first in the UK was at Kew Gardens’ sister site Wakehurst Place, West Sussex, in 1987. Weather extremes are thought to trigger flowering. The wet winter and hot summer may have helped to produce the flowers this year.

Borde Hill’s 1928 tree, grown from seed collected by plant hunter George Forrest, on an expedition in Southern China, was one of many such expeditions sponsored by Col Stephenson Clarke over nearly 40 years that helped create the notable collection of trees and shrubs at the Grade II* listed Garden.

‘My great-grand father planted the tree but never saw it flower, neither did his son or grandson. We had to wait until the fourth generation of my family to see this amazing tree flowering’ said Andrewjohn Stephenson Clarke.Emmenopterys henryi Sept _9508 (1)

Borde Hill holds the largest collection of ‘champion’ trees to be found in private collection in the British Isles, and the family still occupies the Elizabethan Mansion, which lies in the 200-acre Estate with stunning views.       01444 450326

Images and more information or tel 01444 884121

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