Crinodendron hookerianum in the South Lakes

Published: 1st June 2020

Posted on 01.06.2020 |
Updated on 20.06.2020 |
Added in Kevin's Propagation/Plant Focus Blog/Healing Gardens

The sight of (Chilean Lantern Tree)  family –  (Elaeocarpaceae) is really something to behold from the month of May through to August. If these beautiful pendant/lantern bright red flowers don't stop you in your tracks when walking around any garden, nothing will ! 
In it's native country of Chile the Crinodendron hookerianum grows by streams and shady woodland spots in humid conditions. In ideal conditions it could potentially reach 5 x 5 metres. 
After my position of Head Gardener for over 10 years in the North Cotswolds where I was fortunate enough to cultivate this outstanding small tree, I am fortunate enough once again to have the joy of not one, but three beautiful specimens in the garden at the Ryebeck on the edge of Lake Windermere. 
Going back to the Cotswolds.  In the winter of 2010/11 temperatures  went down to minus 12 degrees, exceptionally cold conditions. The Crinodendron was a mature specimen,  sited in a sheltered  semi shaded position which is the ideal aspect for flowering capacity and overall protection from the elements. An acidic moist soil is desired too. It was by good fortune in that Cotswold garden to experience a swathe of acid soil to grow Rhododendrons, unusual for that part of the country.  Back to that winter. The Crinodendron was killed to just below a metre above  the ground level. The physical act of the small tree back to the live wood rejuvenated it back to life. A season of flowering was missed, there were little flowers the following year, and a gradual pick up each season thereafter. Winter protection was followed up after that initial winter freeze from 2010/11this took the form of straw wrapped with fleece. 
I Digress.
In  March 2012,  the RHS Plantsman journal( now RHS Plants Review) covered an interesting subject area of plant hardiness. I wrote a piece for the Plantsman on the National Collection of Arbutus species that I was cultivating and propagating at that time, and through the ten years of my position of Head Gardener. It was Interesting to note that a mature specimen of Arbutus ‘Marina' had been struck back to ground level at minus 12 degrees that winter, and only metres away from the Crinodendron in question. 

crinodendron 2 small 97
Crinodendron hookerianum in the South Lakes ( Ryebeck)
crinodendron small 51
Crinodendron hookerianum in the South Lakes ( Ryebeck)

Since moving to the South Lakes in late December 2016, we haven't experienced those temperatures from 2010/11, the lowest has averaged around -4 within that period. The three Crinodendrons face south/east, semi shaded, and all situated in sheltered positions. 
I am currently in lock down as of course so many others are, although may be more unusually so for a minority of gardeners as nature continues to take a hold and gardens soon become over grown. The solace that I have is that for the last 9 weeks I am enjoying developing our quarter of an acre wildlife garden, how did I even find time to go to work! 
My plan when hopefully returning to the Ryebeck is to develop areas for perennial planting features beneath one of the Crinodendrons. The one in question is situated by the drive exit and so will make for an Interesting shady perennial planting feature linking with the Crinodendron. As with other areas of development of semi shaded planting an interesting selection of beneath the Crinodendron hookerianum will be planted. 

hostas small 18

The planting of a good selection of Hosta species associated with the Crinodendron will feature too as part of my Healing Gardens project.