Corylus contorta Red Majestic

posted in: Gardening | 18
Corylus contorta Red Majestic Catkins
Corylus contorta Red Majestic Catkins

Who here will admit to buying garden plants on impulse?  Don’t all shout out at once, but I’ve guessed it – you all have.  Well two years ago I couldn’t resist a most unusual looking shrub called Corylus contorta Red Majestic.  Its cousin Corylus contorta otherwise known as Harry Lauders walking stick was already growing in the leavesnbloom garden and since I love ♥ dark leaf foliage plants  it just had to be bought.


All logic at this point went out the window and was replaced by sheer emotion.  I hadn’t a clue where I would plant it. I didn’t even think I would have room for it. But impulse has a great way of making us feel that we really NEED this! Plus it was HALF PRICE – a bargain!  Now that’s an incentive I can’t pass by plus it was the only one for sale in the nursery.

Anyway it could always be grown in a pot so off I headed to the checkout, adrenalin pumping.   Do you recognise that feeling?

Corylus contorta Red Majestic

Male catkins on Corylus contorta Red Majestic
male catkins on Corylus contorta Red Majestic
Female flower from Corylus contorta Red Majestic
a female flower on Corylus contorta Red Majestic


This plant has rich purplish burgundy corrugated leaves and twisted stems. Furthermore the leaves change colour throughout the season. Two years later and it has catkins …all TWO of them!  Unlike its cousin Harry Lauder – you need to be up close to even notice these spring flowering catkins. They are a rosy purple colour against the twisted leafless branches.


The border the Corylus avellena Red Majestic grows in

It’s a slow growing shrub. But I did hope it would be a little bit more ‘floriferous’ or ‘catkinous’  this Spring …like cousin Harry. Hopefully just finding one female flower on the shrub doesn’t mean that Spring 2013 is going to be another poor year for catkins.


I know that buying on impulse isn’t really advisable in gardening. Sometimes we regret those purchases later on . But so far I’m quite happy with the shrub though it will take years to make its presence felt in that part of the border.


The shrub likes moist but well drained soil. It prefers a semi shaded spot in the border too. Despite having few catkins this spring  it’s still giving lots of interest in this part of the garden.  Though it has to compete with Pulmonaria, Winter Aconites, Brunnera and Fritillarias at its feet. While the vertical golden canes of bamboo in the background give contrast to its twisted bare stems.


What plants have you bought on impulse? Did they work out for you or did they prove to be an expensive mistake?

Follow Rosie Nixon:

Photography Tutor and Gardener

Rosie is a garden photographer, writer and nature lover. She enjoys soaking up nature and is easily distracted from doing the weeding by anything that flutters, flies, buzzes, creeps or crawls! She enjoys sharing the beauty of creation through her photography. Rosie has been featured on TV on BBC2's The Beechgrove Garden and she uses the outdoors as her natural light studio. Her work can be seen at one of Scotland's only photography galleries - Close Gallery, 4b Howe Street, Edinburgh.

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18 Responses

  1. Larry

    Lovely photos as always! I buy on impulse all the time and have never regretted it! It keeps things interesting. The only negative that I can think of is the difficulty of finding a spot for the impulse purchase in a 'full' garden… Larry

  2. Gatsbys Gardens

    I definitely have a problem when I buy on impulse because my garden is so small. However, I do it all the time and then wonder how I am going to fit it in. That's why I have a layered garden, works most of the time!


  3. ~Gardener on Sherlock Street

    Those impulse buys! Some good some not. I seem to have more issues with accepting gift plants. People offer me stuff and I'm like, "OK" without knowing where it will fit in the garden. I've stopped accepting trees though! Ha.

  4. Curbstone Valley Farm

    **Raises her hand, and bounces around the room, shouting ME ME ME!** I had a problem with 'rescuing' Japanese Maples for a while…a habit I've now curbed after a couple of disasters trying to grow some of them in less than ideal conditions. I try not to buy on impulse any more, as I have made some unwise purchases in for prior gardens, but occasionally those impulse buys can still result in an unexpected beauty in the garden. My favorite was a 'Fernleaf Full Moon' maple (Acer japonicum acontifolium). A 12" high stick, with no leaves. In five years it was the most spectacular tree in our garden, especially in October.

    I suspect with this plant it just make take a few years to really establish itself, like our maple did. Hopefully, in another spring or two, it will surprise you!

  5. Lona

    Who Me? LOL! I buy plants on impulse often it seems. Well your Red Majestic was well worth the wait. The catkins are amazing looking. Have a lovely weekend.

  6. Jayne

    *Raising hand and waving madly* Yes, I have bought lots of things on impulse, only to wonder where on earth I'm going to plant them when I get them home. I think the best buy I made on impulse was a Vitex tree. I had never heard of it before, and didn't have a bed even ready for it, but I got it anyway. It's now 15 feet tall and is covered in beautiful lilac blooms all summer, which butterflies, bees and hummingbirds all love. I hope your Red Majestic gets more catkins for you this year.

  7. Lyn

    The spring border looks lovely. The contorted hazel (common one) is a plant I have drooled over for years, but I truly don't have a spot for one, so I have managed to resist. My best impulse buy was a pink Albizia (Silk Tree) that I knew nothing about when I bought it 25 years ago. It gives me great joy in all seasons, by its elegant shape, lovely foliage and pretty flowers.

  8. merv

    @Lyn Not used to blogging so hope this works. Albizia is one of the most beautiful trees, but I don't see it very often here in Kent.

  9. Bom

    I often buy plants on impulse. My best (most infamous?) story of unplanned buying is quite long though and perhaps there will be some better time to relate this.

    Don't feel so bad. I planted lilies two years ago and just this week have finally been rewarded with one(!) flower.

  10. HolleyGarden

    Oh, I laughed! Yes, I think we have all bought things we just NEEDED for that one second before check out! 🙂 Still, if I saw that shrub for sale, I would NEED it in my garden!

  11. PlantPostings

    Yes, unfortunately (sometimes fortunately), I have done the same. Those shrubs are so fascinating, though, with their twisted branches. Seems like you made a great purchase!

  12. Andrea

    I buy on impulse even if i don't have the money for it! But yours proved to be more expensive now and more famous, because of the long wait and enthusiasm put into it. High demand with less supply produced a high price; lots of branches with only those 2 flowers!

  13. James Missier

    I do buy few plants on impulse – as long as they are cheap as I'm not that bold enough to make any expensive mistakes.
    And above all – prefer to get plants where they are usually pruned and thrown along the streetside.
    There is more fun in regenerating those and if they don't survive – well – it is an experiment which didn't cost me anything.

  14. Lucy

    Sorry to take so long to get back to you about tree following. This explains –

    Shall I put Leavesnbloom on the list? Shall I put a link to this post?


  15. Dawn One

    I've been looking everywhere for this plant… i live in Toronto Canada- any clues???

  16. Dawn One

    I've been looking everywhere for this plant… i live in Toronto Canada- any clues???

  17. Rosie Nixon

    @Dawn One I can just suggest this forum – as there are loads of Canadian gardeners registered there and maybe one of them could help you source one.