This is the journal of my endeavours to grow a range of fruit, veg and flowers from seed, grow organically, and my attempts to create a personal paradise with 1/2 acre of maintained gardens and 1/2 acre wild meadows. Northern Ireland's average daily high temperatures are 18 °C (64 °F) in July and 6 °C (43 °F) in January. Soil type: Clay

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Corkscrew Hazel and Harry Lauder

The corkscrew hazel, also known as Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick – each year I love it and hate it!

It looks great in winter but rather bleak in summer. I thought about moving it this year but found it to be like a rugby player – very solid and rooted.

Why is it known as Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick? Harry Lauder, born in Edinburgh, Scotland, grew up to become an international entertainer and singer/ songwriter. I have to admit I’d never heard of Harry Lauder before purchasing the plant.

During the early 1900s Lauder, at one time, was the highest-paid performer in the world, making the equivalent of £12,700 a night plus expenses, and was the first British artiste to sell a million records. Winston Churchill stated that Lauder, " his inspiring songs and valiant life, rendered measureless service to the Scottish race and to the British Empire."* 

The walking stick name was in reference to one of Harry Lauder’s most recognised companions on the stage.  He would appear in public in traditional Scottish dress and carried a very distinctive walking stick, which was bent, twisted and contorted from the handle down to the tip. So it gains this name from the fact Lauder regularly appeared with a crooked walking stick.*

Above: photo taken Jan 2013.
Above: Photo taken  January 2011.
Above: Photo taken Sept 2011.
I must admit, since doing a bit of research on the corkscrew hazel, I think my tree is going to eventually get too big for the location it's planted. Bummer! 

Here are the pros and cons for the Corkscrew Hazel...

·         Hardy
·         Slow growing
·         Very interesting in Winter with its contorted stems
·         Catkins before spring foliage appears

·         It gets big – up to 5m (20ft) in 25 years
·         It sends up suckers
·         It looks rather ugly in Summer (strange crinkled leaves)

*Source for article on Harry Lauder:

Copyright: All words and photos are property of Kelli's Northern Ireland Garden.


  1. My daughter bought me a HL Walking Stick for mother's day one year. I killed it--not on purpose. She loves the tree, good arborist that she is. Even with its crinkly leaves in the summer, it does add texture and character in the garden.

  2. Those palm trunks are going to have to go!

    1. I agree! Its like one of those unsightly things I've gotten used to over time, and don't notice any more. But they do have to go. The next decent day...

  3. I can't make my mind up if I like it or not - I wonder why it grows like that?

  4. We had one too but we couldn't put up with its summer drabness so I'm afraid it had to go.

  5. I'd never heard of Harry Lauder before, very interesting. The Corkscrew Hazel certainly has something to offer in winter.

  6. I think they look nice all year round. I pass a garden with one on the walk to my parents house.

  7. I think the corkscrew hazel is a beauty in your garden according to the present photo. May be it grows too big for the spot, but now it's nice and in summer your eyes will be drawn to other nice shrubs and plants so you don't see it looks ugly at least it's green.

  8. I fully agree with your feelings about the corkscrew hazel. Greenfly also seemed to like it. As Martyn said ours was dug up and a couple of bits of root planted on the plot where they have reverted to straight stemmed individuals!

  9. Great history! These are really interesting plants. Can you prune it so it fits the spot better?

    1. Pruning - I've pruned it a bit over the years i.e. some off the sides and top. However, I find when I prune it, the tree wants to revert back to an original straight hazel plant at the point that I've pruned, which isn't good. The trials and tribulations we gardeners face! lol

  10. It may be an age thing. I am a few years older than you but I have to admit to knowing about Sir Harry Lauder and his stick. I suspect that his most famous song was, " The Bonnie Banks of Clyde."