Alder buckthorn (Frangula alnus) is a rather undistinguished small tree or shrub. It is very common in our woods and fields, and normally one would not even consider planting it in the garden. However, its ornamental form `Asplenifolia` is fit even for the most discerning gardener. It is an airy, compact shrub, 2m tall and 1,5-2 m [banner] wide shaped like a upright umbrella. Its leaves are very deeply incised, thin and irregularly threadlike. Its general appearance reminds more of a large papyrus sedge than of a buckthorn.
It is not particular about growth conditions, however, it grows best in sun or semi-shade, in fertile and moisture retentive soil. It is completely hardy, and does not require any winter cover. Its growth rate is slow and it does not need any pruning.
The crown is wider at the top, so this buckthorn cultivar can be grown together with other compact shrubs or herbaceous perennials, which would not overwhelm the plant, while at the same time providing with some ground cover. It looks very distinguished when paired with ornamental grasses and bulbs.
© Giedra Bartas, 2014