Time for a tree – and what a year it’s been for our Eriobotrya (or if you prefer it’s common name, loquat).
Most often, after an average summer, we will be rewarded with a few late flowers: they are a little insignificant to look at, but beautifully fragrant, and there is no greater delight than to walk past and be caught unawares by this delicious scent. But this year, the tree has been smothered in creamy white flowers and I have never seen it look (or smell!) so good. The edible fruits, even after a summer like this one, almost never materialise in the UK.
Anyhow, with or without flowers or fruit, Eriobotrya is an unusual and architectural, evergreen tree. When first planted, ours looked rather bushy, but as it matured, we pruned the lower branches and it has developed into a very ornamental specimen, reaching the first floor window after 25 years. It has handsome, large, almost pleated leaves, which catch the light in a most attractive way.
Eriobotrya would look at home in a Mediterranean style garden, maybe underplanted with Acanthus ‘Rue Ledan’ and Geranium palmatum, but it would also bring a wonderfully tropical look to one of those jungle-type gardens filled with bamboos, cordylines and other exotics.
I can even imagine it looking good in a small, courtyard town garden. It is tolerant of aspect and also of pruning – but not before the bees have enjoyed their late autumn feast!