Plant of the Month for May: Chilean lantern tree

For the people who look after the garden, it is true to say our hearts belong at Wisley. As far as we’re concerned it’s one of the best gardens in the world. And there are so many contenders for Plant of the Month – what a choice!

We decided to go for something a little more unusual.  We’ve just been working on a new Mediterranean Walk at Wisley, with plants from the Mediterranean climate regions around the wold. One of these is Chile, and we’ve been inspired by the Chilean lantern tree, Crinodendron hookerianum.

It comes by its common name because of its waxy red flowers that dangle like tiny Christmas lanterns, ‘dripping’ from every branch. What we like is the effect on people walking by – when they spot the unusual flowers they tend to stop in their tracks. It’s fun to show a bit of something out of the ordinary to demonstrate how brilliant and diverse plants can be.

Crinodendron hookerianum grows well in the sheltered places at Wisley. The Mediterranean Walk previously mentioned is at the back of Battleston Hill, above the Trials Field. But one of the best places to see it is behind the Walled Garden West, sponsored by Witan Investment Trust, opposite the Wild Garden, beside the semi-circular pond.

Our lantern trees grow well alongside rhododendrons and camellias, Chinese tree peonies and Embothrium, as well as other plants from its native Chile.  How do you grow yours?

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