A: I think purple wintercreeper, Euonymus fortunei ‘Coloratus,’ is the perfect plant for you. It tolerates deep shade and full sunshine. After planting, it spreads quickly. When established, it needs hardly any watering. I have been watching a planting of wintercreeper in the hellstrip between sidewalk and street near my house for three years. It is purple most of the year but turns green when it’s really hot. After severe cold like last winter, all the leaves turned brown, leaving a tangle of stems. But the stems were perfectly hardy and quickly sprouted new leaves. Technically, it is listed as invasive because it clambers up and over small shrubs and perennials, but your trees will have no problem. Trim it off the base of trees once a year. It looks best when cut twice yearly at 6-10 inches high.
Q: My tea olive plant is 6 feet tall and well established. Recently, limbs have developed wrinkled areas on the branches, beyond which the leaves die. Is it too much water or a fungal infection? Nathan Langley, email
A: It’s just delayed cold damage. Last winter’s cold partially froze the limbs, but not enough to kill the limbs outright. They might even have had green leaves until recently. But finally the damaged limb rots through completely, causing the wrinkled stem and brown leaves. You can prune them out whenever you have time.
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