Thursday, 20 January 2011

Viburnum farreri...

Six weeks is a respectable length of time for most of our garden plants to flower. Whether they be trees, shrubs, herbaceous plants or bulbs, most then get on with their prime purpose of setting and spreading seed for the next generation. An impressive sixteen week blooming might be achieved by some of the most highly bred, half hardy annuals grown for their artificial summer spectacular. The wholly natural six month plus performance by the shrub I shall be focusing on this time is therefore truly outstanding. That it gives so much over the darkest and coldest part of the year when all else has seemingly shut up shop is nothing short of remarkable.

Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’ is the form you are most likely to come across, but one of the parents of that 1930s hybrid, Viburnum farreri or fragrans is also commonly found. The ‘fragrans' part of the name gives away one of the plants finest features, its intensely fragrant, long lasting flowers which when cut and placed in a vase indoors will sweetly scent the whole house. Small clusters of the little trumpet shaped blossoms regularly appear, deep, rosy pink in bud, then slowly fading to white. They are dotted throughout the bare branches from leaf fall through till Easter. Although they may be browned off by the severest winter weather, bowed they may be but certainly not broken, as they soon bounce back during milder spells.

Even in leaf, it has its plus points. In spring, its freshly expanded foliage is often tinged bronze, through summer the healthy ribbed leaves are said to smell of citrus when bruised. Then, before their fall, they turn vibrant shades of red and russet orange.
The cracked and crusty, flaking cinnamon brown bark on the upright branches is also an attractive feature of this three metre tall shrub. In time it sends up a great thicket of shoots that will slowly spread outwards, rooting into the leaf litter as they go to produce a clump just as wide as high. Pieces from the outside can be easily dug up and detached to make more to place elsewhere or give away. Sunshine or part shade suits this totally hardy shrub equally well, but the best position for it would be close to a well used path so that those wonderful winter blooms can be savoured every day...

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...