Blackthorn is a densely branched thorny shrub growing to a height of 1-5 m. The bark on the stem is blackish-brown and the lateral twigs have a terminal spine. The buds are small and ovate; the flower buds arc generally borne in dense clusters on short twigs. The whitish flowers appear in April — May before the leaves. The fruits, known as sloes, ripen in September-October and are astringent, becoming tastier after the first frosts. The brown, pitted seed is difficult to separate from the pulp.

This shrub is widespread throughout most of Europe, its range extending northward to the 68th parallel and south-east to Asia Minor. In central Europe it is most plentiful in warm, wine- growing areas, where it forms dense thickets on dry, sunny banks. It has a richly branching root system and puts out root suckers freely, for which reason it is used to strengthen rocky banks and in the afforestation of barren slopes in karst areas. It is a widespread hedgerow plant as well. It occurs at elevations up to 600-700 rn. Its thick, spiny branches provide a good shelter for small birds. The fruit is used for medicinal purposes and to make wine and dyes.

The Romanus rose reaches 1-2 m in height and has numerous shoots densely covered with thorns of varying size. The buds arc ovate and reddish. The flowers, bloom from the middle of .June to August. The large, broad hips are brick red, turning purplish red when ripe in October, with long, erect sepals at the tips.

It is a native of Asia Minor, Iran and Caucasia, where it grows on richer soils in open broadleaved woods. It tolerates moderate shade. Cultivated varieties of this species arc widely planted in the parks and gardens of central and western Europe.

They are rich in Vitamin C, have a pleasant aromatic scent, and can be used in making preserves. The ovary contains a large number of brown, apple-pip-like seeds. This shrub is a native of the Shantung Province in China but has been cultivated in Japan for centuries. It is widely grown in the parks and gardens of central and western Europe for its lovely flowers.

It also stands up well to temperatures of minus 20C and grows on drier soils ; however, it requires a sunny aspect to produce a profusion of flowers. It is readily propagated by means of seeds and also throws up root suckers. Solitary specimens are very ornamental but it is equally well suited for the formation of thick thorny hedges.

In garden planning, cutting and laying pieces of garden paving stone in a crazy paving pattern is a difficult, precision job.

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