Fraxinus mandshurica var. mandshurica

The Manchurian ash resembles the native Finnish species, the European ash (F. excelsior), but its leaves are considerably larger and the shoots thicker; as if painted with a broader brush. The previous year’s shoots are bluntly angular. The wind-pollinated flowers appear before leaf flush and are polygamous, i.e. each tree can have flowers with male and female organs, or flowers which are only male or female, or any combination of any or all of these.

Taxus baccata - common yew, English yew

The yew is the longest-lived of all European conifers. It can achieve heights of 15-20m and the oldest individuals are estimated to be 1200-1500 years old. Yew trees have been highly respected and valued from pre-historic times, and the species is also regarded as a symbol of death, and of immortality. The wood itself, tough and durable, has been used in making lutes, and especially in the manufacture of longbows and crossbows. The war-filled history of Europe, with its demand for these weapons, lead to the almost total destruction of yew stands.

Kalopanax septemlobus - tree aralia

Tree aralia, the only species of the genus, is the plant equivalent of the Amur tiger. It has adapted to the freezing winters of the forest zones of north-eastern Asia although it looks more like a plant of the tropical jungle. To Finnish eyes it resembles the indoor plant fatsi (also called Japanese aralia or castor oil plant, Fatsia japonica), to which it is related. In its native habitat it grows into a massive 30-metre tree, whose trunk can exceed a metre in diameter. The trunk it covered in stout prickles, as are the branches.

Ulmus japonica - Japanese elm

The naturally very variable Japanese elm is one of the key species in the fight against Dutch elm disease (Ophiostoma ulmi), which has destroyed a large part of the elm populations of central and western Europe, as well as those of North America. Species from Asia seem to have the best resistance.

The Japanese elm can grow in the wild to 30 metres, with a broad crown, but there are also shrubby forms. The leaves are 8-12 cm, and the branches of some provenances have corky wings which make them attractive even in winter.

Rhododendron × fraseri - Rhododendron 'Fraseri'

Nurseryman George Fraser emigrated from Scotland to Canada in the late 1800s and bought 100 hectares of forest on Vancouver Island, where he established a new nursery. In his breeding programme he used many other genera, in addition to rhododendrons.Fraser’s first hybrid rhododendron was largely a matter of chance. He had ordered cranberry plants from Nova Scotia, among which he found an extra “weed”, a small rhodora (R. canadense), which he planted.