Harry Lauder’s walking stick in winter: what a charmer!
In full leaf, the same shrub is just about the ugliest plant you can imagine.

Some plants look better when they aren’t covered with leaves. This is certainly the case with the shrub commonly called Harry Lauder’s walking stick or contorted filbert (Corylus avellana ‘Tortuosa’). It is absolutely stunning in the winter when its gnarled and twisted branches are visible to all, but what an ugly plant it is in summer when it is covered with misshapen, twisted, and bumpy leaves that hide the beautiful and curious branches from sight.

My suggestion? Find a dead specimen in the nursery and plant it at home. That way the plant will be attractive in all seasons… and the price ought to be excellent!

How The Twisted Shrub Got Its Name

20160126C.jpgIn case you wondered, Harry Lauder (1870-1950) was a Scottish music hall and vaudeville comedian and singer, especially popular in the early 20th century, famous for such songs as “Roamin’ in the Gloamin”. He used to appear on stage wearing a kilt and using a twisted cromach (walking stick) as a cane.

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

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