This month I would like to share some of my favorite new additions to our gardens. Two years ago I planted two Clove Currant shrubs in the garden. I wish I had planted more! For about three weeks the clove-like scent of the yellow spring flowers has filled the air in the garden. I have seen bumblebees and butterflies on the flowers, an additional plus. Edible black fruits will follow the passing of the flowers. These attract birds so I have only been able to taste a few currants but they are delicious. I look forward to these shrubs in the autumn as well, as the leaves turn a reddish brown color. The only concern one might have is that the shrub is a fast grower. Ours are planted in full sun in soil amended by a yearly compost addition. To keep the shrub in bounds in the future I plan to sit down on the ground and to remove some of the branches emerging from the base . Promise me that if you add this native shrub to your gardens you will never cut it partway down the stems to control the height. This produces witches brooms which make the plants get very dense at the top, prevents light from reaching the lower part of the shrub, and eventually leads to ugliness.
Another shrub which has been a delight is Diablo Ninebark, Physocarpus opulifolius 'Monlo' PP#11211. This hybridized member of the rose family is attractive to bees and butterflies. All parts of this plant are poisonous. The leaves are burgundy color. Ninebark blooms in summer and the flowers are a delight. They resemble buttons! All that ninebark requires is full sun and good drainage.
We have some established Weigelias, relatives of honeysuckles, but with over a hundred different types I have been adding more. These imports from the orient are usually listed as low maintenance shrubs but ours do get woody so I refurbish them every few years to keep the shrubs attractive. This is the time for my garden saw and some serious work! The flowers come in white, red, or pink.
Our second Harry Lauder's walking stick survived this past winter. The last one did not survive the winter of 2008-9. I plan to mulch this one in late November, something I have not done in the past. This shrub is a contorted grafted form of the hazelnut tree. It is named for the early twentieth century Scottish entertainer who used a cane made from the shrub I can't wait for the shrub to grow taller. Many people comment about this shrub now but when it reaches its maximum height of about ten feet it will be a real character
Our second daughter called from Philadelphia as I was writing this column. We started talking about lilacs and I commented that we only have the purple and a white. When she comes to visit later this month she is going to bring me a pink dwarf variety. Lucky me!