Saturday, January 12, 2013

Winter Interest Part 9 - Harry Lauder Walking Stick

Growth: to 10 ft.
Culture: Sun to partial shade; drought tolerant
Flowers: Unremarkable
Grown for unusual twisted, corkscrew branches
Hardy: Zones 4b-8 (Franklin County is Zone 6)
Winter interest plant

This intriguing shrub (Corylus avellana 'Contorta') lends plenty of winter interest when sited to show off its silhouette with twisted, corkscrew branches. Every Harry Lauder's Walking Stick was propagated from a single plant that was discovered in an English hedgerow in the 19th century.

Not its best feature, it does have textured green leaves that fade to pale yellow in fall. Hardy in zones 4B-8, it has a slow growth rate and can reach 10’. It has a high tolerance for drought, likes sun or part shade and does well in most soils.

A member of the hazel family, it produces flowers called catkins which may hold on into winter, though it does not produce nuts. Usually grafted onto Corylus colurna rootstock, gardeners need to prune off any suckers to prevent the plant reverting to the rootstock characteristics.

Sometimes an icy coating gives this shrub as spectacular winter display.

You want to know why the name, don’t you? Presumably it was named after Harry Lauder, an early 20th C. English vaudevillian who carried a crooked walking stick with him on stage.
In real life, he also collected crooked walking sticks which were sold at auction for very high prices.

When planning your landscape changes, consider this plant for sites that will show off its winter interest.

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