Plant of the Month
Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’
Location: Grid S-9 east side of the upper pond
The Contorted Filbert is perhaps the most twisted plant in the collection, and like many of the contorted plants, it is most striking in the winter when you can see the unique twists and turns. It is also interesting this time of year because it is actually already starting to flower! That is perhaps a little mis-leading since it certainly doesn’t have any bright, colorful blooms right now. However, the male flowers which will produce the pollen in a few weeks are growing now and have almost expanded to full size.
Everything about this plant is contorted, even the leaves are somewhat twisted, but since it is so dense one has to look closely to see that.
The specimen in the Arboretum was planted in 1995; so it is essentially at mature size now, maybe 8’ tall and 10 feet wide. It is a grafted plant, and the rootstock continues to produce suckers every year, which need to be removed; but otherwise it has been easy to grow with no significant issues. There is now a contorted, purple leaf selection available as well, combining colorful foliage with unique growth habit.
January has been amazingly mild and dry, which has mostly meant that I can be outside using a chainsaw to clean up storm damage. But, I have managed to finish updating the Arboretum database and those updates are now available on the Collections and Gardens page.
The other big project besides storm clean up has been working to get a new layer of gravel laid on the road. For the past few years we have tried to keep up with that using my crew; but that didn’t happen this year and with all of the rain we have had the whole road was getting pretty sloppy. The challenge though was clearing enough branches so a dump truck could get through the Arboretum without tearing up either trees or the truck. I think I hauled off 19 pickup loads of branches. My goal was to try to keep it looking as natural as possible, so it doesn’t end up looking like we were clearing for a power line. Then the next challenge is spreading the gravel thin enough that it doesn’t become a challenge to walk through.
Kris Roby, past president of Arboretum Associates finished up a project working with the U of I Library to scan all the past issues of Arbornotes and they are now available from the library's digital archives.
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