An elegant evergreen, or in hard winters, semi-evergreen, shrub, becoming eventually 8 ft or more high, and producing long, slender, arching shoots in one season; branchlets copiously furnished with stalked glands. Leaves 1⁄2 to 1 in. long, about half as wide; obovate or narrowly oval, toothed, stalkless; glabrous and glossy green above, specked beneath with minute resin-glands. Flowers of a charming bright rosy carmine, 1⁄2 in. across, produced during June and July (a few later) in short racemes of about half a dozen blossoms terminating short leafy twigs; calyx and flower-stalk slightly glandular. Petals with a distinct but short claw, which is slightly more than half as long as the limb.
This very attractive shrub was raised in Messrs. Veitch’s nursery at Langley about 1893, by crossing E. virgata with a selection from E. rubra raised by the same firm and called “E. macrantha sanguined”. Although not quite so hardy as the first of these, it is hardy enough to stand all but the severest of frosts, and even then will break up again from the ground.
This hybrid is usually given botanical status as E. × langleyensis Veitch (1897), but the correct botanical name for E. rubra × E. virgata would be E. × rigida Phil., given in 1894 to a wild plant of this parentage.
‘Langleyensis’ is the original member of an important group of garden hybrids all deriving (through back-crossing and inter-crossing) from E. virgata and E. rubra (or its var. macrantba). Some resemble ‘Langleyensis’ in shape of flower (limb of petals spreading, much longer than the claw); others are nearer to E. rubra or its var. macrantha in having flowers with a longish “tube” and the limbs of the petals relatively shorter than in ‘Langleyensis’; while ‘Apple Blossom’ and similar clones (q.v.) have flowers of a shape unlike that of any cultivated species. All the hybrids in this group (except ‘Gwendolyn Anley’) have flowers with a cushion-shaped disk, which helps to distinguish them even after flowering from the cultivars of E. rubra (in which the disk is narrowly conical). All the hybrids described below were raised by the Slieve Donard Nursery Company, Newry, Co. Down, with the exception of ‘Edinensis’, ‘Gwendolyn Anley’, and ‘William Watson’.
‘Apple Blossom’. – Flowers apple-blossom pink, shading paler on the outside of the claws and at the centre of the limbs. Petals about 1⁄2 in. long, more or less upright; limb slightly longer than the claw, not spreading. The unusual posture of the petals gives to the flower a form described by the raiser as ‘chalice-shaped’. Leaves mostly elliptic, finely toothed. Height and width about 5 ft. This beautiful escallonia received an Award of Merit in 1946 and an Award of Garden Merit five years later. Two hybrids deriving from this and with flowers of a similar shape are: ‘Peach Blossom’, with petals of a deeper pink; and ‘Pride of Donard’, in which the petals are of a clear red. The latter flowers somewhat earlier than the others in this section, from early June.
‘Donard Beauty’. – Flowers similar to those of ‘Langleyensis’, very freely borne. This hybrid resembles ‘Edinensis’ in having the receptacle of the flower almost eglandular, but the leaves are mostly under 1 in. long and roundish obovate. Semi-pendulous habit. Height 5 to 7 ft. A.M. 1930.
‘Donard Gem’. – Flowers light pink, inclining to E. virgata in shape, sweetly scented. Leaves with coarse spreading teeth, densely gland-dotted beneath. A.M. 1927.
‘Donard Radiance’. – Flowers chalice-shaped, rich pink; petals with a distinct claw about 1⁄4 in. long, abruptly widened into a roundish, erect, or spreading limb. Leaves obovate, coarsely toothed in the upper part, rounded or truncate at the apex. Similar in habit to ‘Apple Blossom’. A.M. 1954.
‘Donard Rose’. – Flowers deep rosy-pink from richly coloured buds, shaped as in ‘Donard Star’ but smaller. Habit semi-pendulous. Leaves with deeply impressed veins.
‘Donard Seedling’. – Buds pink opening white flushed with pale rose. Flowers about 5⁄8 in. wide, shaped as in ‘Langleyensis’ but with shorter-clawed petals. Leaves obovate, 1⁄2 to 1 in. long. A very hardy hybrid which received an Award of Merit in 1916 and is still common in gardens. Said to be a backcross of ‘Langleyensis’ onto E. virgata. Ultimate height 8 ft or even more.
‘Donard Star’. – Flowers deep rosy-pink, about 1 in. wide across the top; claw of petals about 3⁄8 in. long, limb spreading, about the same length. Leaves dark glossy green. Compact habit. Height 5 to 6 ft.
‘Donard White’ . – Flowers pure white, about 1⁄2 in. wide, from pink buds. Petals with a very short claw. Anthers rather large and conspicuous, golden yellow. Compact, 5 to 6 ft high. Fairly hardy.
‘Edinensis’. – This hybrid was raised at the Edinburgh Botanic Garden, before 1914. It bears some resemblance to ‘Langleyensis’ but the habit is not so pendulous and the flowers somewhat paler. A reliable botanical distinction is that the receptacle of the flower is completely devoid of stalked glands. Hardy.
‘Gwendolyn Anley’. – Flowers pink in the bud, opening white slightly pink-flushed, 5⁄8 to 3⁄4 in. wide, with spreading almost clawless petals; disk flat, as in E. virgata. A completely hardy deciduous shrub 3 to 4 ft high, 10 ft or more wide, with small finely toothed leaves. Near to E. virgata but with larger flowers.
‘Slieve Donard’. – Flowers shaped as in ‘Langleyensis’, with a paler ground-colour but deeper, carmine-pink markings. Receptacle of flower rather densely clad with stalked glands. Arching habit, 5 to 7 ft high.
‘William Watson’. – Flowers shaped as in ‘Langleyensis’ but deep pink and with relatively longer-clawed petals. Receptacle without glands. Leaves broad-obovate or broad elliptic. Dense habit. Height 5 to 6 ft in the milder parts, but fairly dwarf at Kew.