Monday, May 29, 2006

In praise of Viburnums

A garden without a viburnum is akin to life without music or art. - Michael A. Dirr

Viburnums, like this Linden Viburnum (Viburnum dilatatum) are my favorite woody shrubs. I love the way they bloom and are smothered in a veil of creamy white. The tiny flowers attract a nice variety of insects and in a good year they are covered with bright red berries in the fall. Their habit is upright and somewhat stiff; mine are massed in a group of three along the property line.

We moved these as mature plants when we put in the pond and just this year they seem to be coming in to their own again in leaf and flower, although they are in a more shaded location. We also used to have a doublefile viburnum, which was drop-dead gorgeous in bloom (but sterile), unfortunately that one did not survive the move. In its place, I've repeatedly planted another favorite viburnum: Smooth Witherod (Viburnum nudum) that has gorgeous pinkish/purple berries, but I can't seem to keep them alive. Of the two planted last fall, one is clearly dead and the other is struggling and has only managed to put out a half-dozen leaves. I'll have to decide what to replace them with; I'm thinking about a Cranberrybush Viburnum (Viburnum trilobum) which has a more *wild* habit, but beautiful fruit that is loved by birds.

If there is room for yet another plant in your shrub border, there is sure to be a variety of Viburnum that will suit your site - and the birds and bugs will thank you. :-)


Susan Gets Native said...

I've read about viburnums but could never decide which one to choose. The cranberry sounds good...loved by birds? I'm all over it. :-)
Do they need boyfriends or girlfriends to make berries?

LauraHinNJ said...

That's the problem I have - there are so many - how to choose?

I do think they need a friend to make berries - it depends on the variety you choose.

It's always better to have a friend, isn't it? ;-)

Endment said...

We got Cranberry Viburnum from the Extension program this year - they are growing like wild --- don't know how they will do next year but they are really doing well so far. I have a number of viburnum planted and hope to put in more. I love them when they have foxgloves growing with them.

MojoMan said...

There are some wild viburnums that, as their leaves begin to decompose on the ground in the fall, give off an odor a bitlike vomit. Every time I smell it, I initially get a little revolted by the unpleasant odor until the happy associations of crisp October days in the country kick in.

Thanks for stopping by my blog and for your helpful comments.

LauraHinNJ said...

I don't know mojoman, sounds unpleasant to me!

The Linden viburnum flowers have a strange scent, nice, but only in small doses.