June 07, 2013

Plant of the month: Viburnum opulus

peachtint

Until recently, this Viburnum shrub was an unappreciated plant in my garden. I think I was too busy planning graduation parties and attending dance recitals and parent/teacher conferences. No complaints about that stage of life, and I wouldn't trade it for the world!

But because April, May, and June were always so busy, I didn't capture Viburnum opulus at its peak of beauty--when the inner florets were just breaking bud and sporting a soft peach tint.

buds

florets

The inner florets are fertile, and the outer florets are sterile, according to the Missouri Botanical Garden. I believe the variety in my garden is V. opulus var. americanum. Its synonym is V. trilobum, according to the USDA Plants Database. Common names include American Cranberrybush or Highbush Cranberry.

A few facts about this shrub:
  • Native to all of Canada and the lower 48 U.S. states, but now found mostly in the north (the European variety is very similar);
  • Hardy in USDA zones 2 to 7;
  • Prefers full sun to part shade (mine is in heavy shade);
  • Low maintenance and medium watering requirements;
  • Attracts birds and butterflies; and
  • Grows to 8 to 12 feet tall, and to the same dimensions in its spread.

fluffy

Even as the florets fully open and wash out to a more universal white color, the blooms form a pleasant, lacy arc above the foliage.

foliage

Though it fades into the green background during the summer months, if you look closely, the foliage is beautiful in its own right--Maple-shaped and deeply veined. The leaves capture precipitation in interesting patterns.

V. trilobum berries
Public Domain: USDA-NRCS Plants Database / Herman, D.E. et al. 1996.

In the autumn, the foliage turns a reddish orange color, and bright red berries add autumn and winter interest (if the birds don't eat them first).

upright

This shrub resides in an embarrassingly unkempt section of my garden that I hope to rearrange and replant next fall or spring. Still, this Viburnum adds a touch of grace to even the most informal garden.

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Just a quick reminder that the "Lessons Learned" and "Seasonal Celebrations" memes are live until June 21, when we'll wrap up for the season! To participate, simply leave a link to your post or add your comments here. Thanks for joining in!

This post is linked to Dozens for Diana. Thanks for hosting!

35 comments:

  1. Lovely! I think I share one of these shrubs with a neighbour - I must take a closer look tomorrow. It grows over the fence. They usually prune it at the wrong time and hasn't had flowers for the last 4 years. Last year I persuaded them to leave the back end of it alone so I can enjoy the flowers.

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    1. Nice! I imagine it would be lovely draping over a fence. Frankly, I've neglected mine, but it seems to be doing OK. ;-) That garden bed will be a higher priority next year ... at least that's my plan.

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  2. next week I plan to post my June Dozen for Diana. I'll add yours.

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    1. Thanks, Diana! Can't wait to hear about the next round of favorite plants.

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    2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  3. Oh, that's a lovely viburnum! I have two viburnums myself, one is destined for the compost bin this summer when I redesign that part of the bed, I am giving it up - after 9 years, think I have been patient enough :-) It is a Viburnum eskimo, should be a huge bush by now but it is just a tiny, spindly, very open bush - lovely flowers in the spring, the few I get, but not much else good to say about it. I am looking for new things to fill that space but have a very long list of things I would like to put in there. A hardy, double gardenia is top of the list! But perhaps I could have this one too, I like that it has berries and nice foliage in the autumn, it is a plus point for me. Thanks for the introduction!

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    1. I know it's hard to give up on a plant, but I guess we eventually have to do that with some of them. :( Apparently, the European variety is almost the same, but the leaves are slightly different. It's one of those shrubs that's under-appreciated, I guess. I admit, I took it for granted until recently.

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  4. This is timely, I am considering buying this shrub. I'm wondering how it fares with deer around, and if they will leave it alone if it is planted unprotected. I like that it is fertile and has fruit, have you tried to cook it? I like the lace cap style of bloom, it looks kind of like Lacecap Hydrangeas.

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    1. Hi Hannah: We have very few deer here, so I'm not sure. I've heard that you can make jam with the fruit, but I've never tried it. Yes! It definitely looks like Lacecap Hydrangeas--except for the peachy color and the foliage. I'll be curious to see if/how you add it to your garden. :)

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  5. I often admire viburnum in gardens. Yours is beautiful! I don't have one in my garden YET! This is a plant I am planning to add, especially for its benefit to wildlife!

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    1. Thanks! I know there are a lot of Viburnums. I really like this one because of its Maple-shaped leaves, and of course the unique flowers.

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  6. I have this bush and love the foliage as it emerges. And the flowers are beautiful...you have captured them perfectly!

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    1. Thanks, Donna! It seems like a good all-around shrub--attractive in all seasons, easy care, and happy in most sun/shade conditions.

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  7. I have three of these along my alley fence. You are right, they are a great shrub. Didn't know about the synonym V. opulus var. americanum, I always just called it V. trilobum.

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    1. I think it's one of those "DNA research changed the Latin name" plants. I think I posted about this shrub last year under V. trilobum, but rechecking USDA plants database showed the name had changed. I can't keep track these days. ;-) Growing over and around a fence seems like the perfect place for it!

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  8. I have one Viburnum, not this one, but I look forward to it each Spring. So do the birds when the berries flush. Great plants and wonderful as hedgerows on properties that can accommodate their size for the critters.

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    1. I like the flowers and berries of all the Viburnums. And any plant that attracts birds is a winner!

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  9. I love Viburnums and have five of them. Yours is beautiful!!

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    1. Wow, what varieties/species do you have? I really think they're all lovely ... and under-appreciated!

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  10. I like flowers, but also the color of berries an foliage in autumn

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    1. Me, too. It's great to find a shrub that has interest in 3-4 seasons! Although, I think this one is in its glory in mid-spring!

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  11. What a great post, how lovely to re-discover and appreciate a plant after years of just walking past it on the way to and from recitals etc!

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    1. Thanks, Janet! Yes, and this Viburnum could be a focal point if I would every get around to cleaning up that section of the garden. ;-)

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  12. I have big Viburnum Dreams for my garden.

    Thanks for tipping me a bit further in that direction :-)

    Yours looks BEE-utiful!

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    1. Certainly! Thanks! It is a very pretty shrub. I think if it was in a more maintained garden bed, it would be more stunning. That's the plan--to give it a better backdrop and reorganize its neighbors. ;-)

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  13. I'm still waiting for my little viburnum to live up to its potential, so I am definitely enjoying yours in the meantime. Viburnums are such great shrubs I think every garden should have one. Ah, yes, I remember those days of running here and there every night; sometimes I miss those days, but I'm not sure I could keep up with it all now:)

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    1. It's interesting that the Viburnum species are so different. I just found this nifty link that shows the leaf shapes: http://bit.ly/12mJ2iw. The Maple-shaped ones are so unique. Regarding the school days: I honestly don't know how I did it, at the same time being the main breadwinner and working full-time-plus. It makes me tired just thinking about it!

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  14. Don't you just love plants that are gorgeous enough to make even the messy corners look good? I really want to fit some viburnums into our landscape, and this just made me more determined.

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    1. Yes! Sometimes I wish my garden was perfectly maintained and in order. But I don't think that will ever happen (for various reasons). So, I guess I'll have to be happy with my "lived-in" garden.

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  15. I have the same viburnum! Except mine is planted about an inch from my house. Brilliant, eh? I also don't get that many berries because it doesn't have a pollinator near by. But I still love it. :o)

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    1. Nice! Actually, you're fortunate you get to see it so often. Mine is quite a distance from the house, and that's part of the reason that area has been neglected. :-( I hope to change that soon.

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  16. It's a beauty no matter when you get the photos.

    Jen

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    1. Thanks, Jen. Yes, it's a good choice for any garden. Some shrubs just have the edge. ;-)

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  17. I have a large virburnam growing next to the Cottage Ornee. It forms a large part of the border between the Lawn Gardens and the end of the Rose Walk. It is an enormous bush, still recovering from a serious ice storm a couple of years ago, but it is indominitable - and beautiful.

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    1. Sounds lovely! I wish I could see it in person. I'm going to hop over to your blog now to see what's in bloom!

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