Question: how to choose plants
Hi, I received your last e-mail with the advertisement for April magazine. I read with great interest the article on Photinia that precisely I was willing to plant it in my garden as a hedge facing the street, to protect my garden "from prying eyes". My only doubt is that here in Sardinia the mistral is very frequent, could you tell me if this shrub is also resistant to the wind and if it adapts to the local climate, not very cold in winter but very hot in summer. I would also ask you what is the difference between Photinia and Eugenia Newport, apparently they would seem very similar. Which one would you recommend given my needs? I want to thank you in advance for your help and lots of compliments for your online site, it really helps! Sincerely, Sandra
Choosing plants: Answer: how to choose plants
although in some photographs Photinia and Eugenia myrtifolia may appear to be the same shrub, they are two very different plants; if in the nursery you have two specimens placed close together, you will easily notice the big difference. Photinia “Red Robin” is a hybrid species, created some decades ago; the result is a vigorous shrub, which in a few years reaches a height of two meters, even reaching about three meters if not pruned; the foliage is oval, glossy, and the young leaves are red or orange, and stand out well among the autumn vegetation. In spring this plant produces large inflorescences consisting of small white flowers, followed by inconspicuous berries. Easy to grow, it tolerates heat well, and even frost, and in fact in Italy it is widely used to produce hedges, especially in the central-northern regions. It shouldn't have any problems even in Sardinia, even if it may need watering and the very strong wind can ruin the young leaves, ruining the orange color. You can try to limit this problem by pruning your photinies in autumn, which will cause more compact vegetation and therefore less prone to damage caused by the wind however, consider that these plants produce flowers on the branches of the previous year, and therefore the autumn pruning removes most of the flowers. I have a beautiful photinia in my garden, in Lombardy, and my relatives hate the scent of its flowers; therefore the autumn pruning is necessary for me, or they would force me to uproot it. Eugenia myrtifolia, on the other hand, is a plant of Australian origin, belonging to the same family as the myrtle; it has slightly larger leaves than the myrtle, but in any case much more minute than those of the photinia, and also more leathery and thick, much more resistant to heat and wind. The vegetation of Eugenia is also much more compact, which makes it much more resistant to gusts of sea wind. Consider that its cultivation needs are very close to those of myrtle, a typical plant of your beautiful land; this shrub fears intense frost, but I believe there is no such concern in Sardinia, and eventually, occasional frosts could ruin only the outer leaves: a slight topping of the branches at the end of winter and the plant returns as new. If you also want a purely aesthetic opinion, photinia is much more striking, but also more obvious: it has been used for decades, and in many places it has supplanted the cherry laurel, and you can see it in many gardens; Eugenia has a more discreet charm, but it is also much more elegant and has a decidedly pleasant flowering, with persistent and very decorative red berries.