Small buds make big im­pres­sion

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - HOME - Peter Cun­dall

THERE are many flow­er­ing shrubs or small trees that can eas­ily be planted at any time of the year, sum­mer or win­ter. Some now on sale at gar­den cen­tres are al­ready in bloom, or are in bud and are about to flower.

It’s worth wan­der­ing around th­ese places to choose the plants you like best while in flower.

Among the most well- known and loved of all win­ter and spring- flow­er­ing shrubs are the vibur­nums.

There’s a huge range of them and al­most all pro­duce spec­tac­u­lar dis­plays of pink, white or green- tinted blooms.

They are also among the tough­est plants we can grow and tol­er­ate the most sav­age frosts, while many are also won­der­fully droughtre­sis­tant with a few liv­ing to a great age.

Most vibur­nums grow hap­pily in full sun or dap­pled shade and can even thrive in rel­a­tively poor or slightly heavy soil.

Among the first to flower is Lau­rusti­nus ( Vibur­num ti­nus) with lovely dis­plays con­tin­u­ing for weeks dur­ing win­ter.

Grow­ing more than 2m, a sin­gle plant makes a great lawn spec­i­men.

If an at­trac­tive pri­vacy screen is needed, a row of Lau­rusti­nus can be planted 2m apart and – if reg­u­larly clipped af­ter flow­er­ing – can soon cre­ate a mag­nif­i­cent, traf­fic- stop­ping, dense, ev­er­green flow­er­ing hedge.

V. burk­woodii is another eas­ily grown beauty that can reach about 4m.

This out­stand­ing, semi- de­cid­u­ous shrub-tree has been bloom­ing fu­ri­ously in many Tas­ma­nian gar­dens dur­ing the past few weeks, pro­duc­ing hun­dreds of white, golf ball- sized, scented flower clus­ters. Prune back hard af­ter flow­er­ing if nec­es­sary. V. car­lesii, a de­cid­u­ous par­ent of the shrubs men­tioned above, grows to about a me­tre with a spread of about the same. Orig­i­nat­ing from Korea, it is con­sid­ered to be among the most beau­ti­ful of all flow­er­ing shrubs.

The un­opened bud- clus­ters are a bright, al­most shock­ing pink, open­ing to clear white.

That’s when the full, pow­er­fully sweet scent is re­leased.

A week or two later, the closely re­lated and twice as tall V. x jud­dii also pro­duces sim­i­lar flow­ers and fra­grances.

There are sev­eral Snow­ball Tree forms of vibur­num, mostly vari­a­tions of V. op­u­lus.

By late Novem­ber the Kolk­witzia comes into full dis­play, pre­sent­ing a to­tally breath­tak­ing sight that dom­i­nates any gar­den

The va­ri­ety Aureum pro­duces golden- green, maple- like leaves in spring, min­gled with lacy, flat- headed, white flower clus­ters.

V. op­u­lus Ro­seum is still found un­der the old name Ster­ile.

When in flower dur­ing spring, this 3m shrub looks as though it is cov­ered with huge, greentinted snow­balls.

V. pli­ca­tum comes from Ja­pan and is par­ent of an ex­tra­or­di­nary range of nat­u­ral hy­brids and cul­ti­vars.

This spread­ing de­cid­u­ous shrub has long, hor­i­zon­tal, over­lap­ping branches and daz­zling green leaves in spring and sum­mer.

The much sought- af­ter Mariesii can grow to 3m and in mid- spring is cov­ered with hun­dreds of plate- sized, in­tensely white flower clus­ters, and it with­stands the heav­i­est frosts with ease.

The Chi­nese Beauty Bush ( Kolk­witzia am­a­bilis) is dis­tantly re­lated to the hon­ey­suck­les.

In win­ter, it is noth­ing more than a pale thicket of bare, leaf­less branches.

How­ever, by late Novem­ber it comes into full dis­play, pre­sent­ing a to­tally breath­tak­ing sight that dom­i­nates any gar­den.

Grow­ing to 4m, the en­tire plant be­comes cov­ered from top to bot­tom with thou­sands of pink, bell- shaped blooms, each with a soft, yel­low throat.

Al­though an ex­tra- large shrub, the Chi­nese Beauty Bush seems to thrive with lit­tle care in just about any soil, in­clud­ing light clay, pro­vided drainage is good.

A Kolk­witzia we in­her­ited in our own gar­den has now been grow­ing for at least 60 years. To my knowl­edge it has rarely been wa­tered or fed, yet never fails to pro­duce out­stand­ing dis­plays, year af­ter year.

Ev­ery three to four years a few older branches are cut back al­most to the ground and some re­main­ing younger ones pruned lightly or just thinned.

This sim­ple, quick job is al­ways car­ried out im­me­di­ately af­ter all flow­ers have faded in early sum­mer. It is the only care it gets, but is clearly enough to keep it young, vig­or­ous and bloom­ing pro­fusely.

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