Plant of the month: a shocking red spindle

If you are looking for bright autumn colours, then you cannot go wrong with this lovely, undemanding shrub for both garden and wildlife value

Monarda-PrarienachtThis plant is a cultivated variety of our native spindle, so-called because the hard, straight wood was used to make spindles, as well as toothpicks, knitting-needles and skewers.

Euonymus europaeus 'Red Cascade' AGM is an excellent choice for gardens. From now until the end of December, this shrub is in the spotlight after having spent the summer largely un-noticed. The leaves turn a deep lustrous red, the seed capsules are bright red and the fleshy fruits are tangerine; a colour combination, that, although striking may be an acquired taste.

This is an easy, undemanding plant being happy in most soils and aspect and it does not mind exposed conditions. It can grow to 2.5-4m (8-13ft) high with an ultimate spread of 1.5-2.5m (5-8ft), making a lovely hedge or screen and ideal in a cottage or informal garden. It is also of tremendous value in the wildlife garden, attracting berry-eating birds such as blackbirds and thrushes.

Where to find it

Here at RHS Garden Rosemoor, our best specimens can be found in the Winter Garden and Lady Anne’s Arboretum. It is included in our ‘native plants’ bed along with other shrubs which provide colourful autumn leaves such as Cornus sanguinea 'Magic Flame' AGM (shades of yellow and orange) and Salix alba 'Golden Ness' AGM with lovely butter yellow leaves.

In Lady Anne’s Arboretum, it is planted in the shade of Cornus kousa 'John Slocock' AGM, which produces bright red fruits to match those of the Euonymus. Close-by, Acer palmatum 'Seiryu' AGM has deeply incised orange, yellow and red autumn leaves. Any Acer that produces the same harmonising colours will also make a good companion.

Feeling blue

For a contrast in form and colour, try herbaceous plants in the blue colour range such as Aconitum, Aster × frikartii 'Mönch' AGM and Liriope muscari AGM. An under planting of Symphyotrichum ericoides 'White Heather' would blend and tone down the reds and oranges, as would Fuchsia 'Hawkshead' AGM. Russet tones of grasses such as Miscanthus and Molinia cultivars would have the same effect.
 


More information

RHS Advice: read about how to tackle Euonymus scale

This plant is also available online from the RHS Plant Shop

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