All I’ve got to say is WOW.
A couple of days ago I decided to go for a walk at Government House to see what was in bloom. While the usual winter grimness was prevalent there was still a lot of things to see. Spent hygrangea blooms clung to naked branches, a larch in the corner loomed bear. Cyclamen leaves were tucked this way and that and the trees above were loaded with the most vibrant scarlet berries. A cotoneaster perhaps? I strolled on.
Just before leaving I turned around to look at the entrance of Government House when I noticed an explosion of yellow and lush green foliage. Mahonia x media, in full bloom, resembling slow motion fireworks. What a sight!
This intentional/accident hybrid, is a cross mix between M. lomariifolia and M. japonica. While M. lomariifolia is relatively tender, japonica is hardy well below -15 and passed it toughness onto it’s offspring. Here in Victoria it’s fool proof hardy and in time grows to staggering sizes. As seen in the photo above, Mahonia x media can grow upwards to 15ft once established.
Mahonia x media starts flowering late November and keeps going well into January. After the blooms are spent the bush is covered in interesting blue/grey berries then in spring sends out a red flush of new foliage. The foliage of course being equally as attractive as the blooms, is holly like but larger. As a potted specimen growth will be a tad slower, but the plant thrives non the less. Depending on how it’s looking mine gets moved throughout the garden and seems to enjoy sun to part shade. Overall not a fussy plant being quite drought tolerent and almost fully pest resistant. Minus it’s soft spring flush of leaves, Mahonia is prickly enough to discourage deer as well.
Fresh foliage underway May 2011
While I tend to avoid a lot of shrubs due to size restrictions, Mahonia x media proves to cooperate even if you have limited space. Pot bound you shouldn’t be overwhelmed by it’s spring growth. All hesitation aside, if you get the chance to grow this plant don’t think twice. Hands down the most beautiful plant outside right now and it does most of the work for you. Best bought on impulse in October/November just starting to bud, a late buy for it’s foliage alone will suffice.
True hybrid propagation done through cuttings, mahonia can also grow from seed but with some variation.
It was worth a trip to Government House after-all, and if you haven’t been there before, take a stroll today. It’s free, and quickly becoming my most favorite public garden in Victoria. Incredible.