WHY YOU SHOULD PLANT IT
We often overlook traditional plants such as beautybush, a standby in every old-fashioned town or country garden, mainly because they look so unruly. This particular cultivar, however, is a stunner. The pale pink and white blooms are perky enough to stand up to a fair amount of wind and the shape is a two-to-three-metre fountain-like form, both high and wide. It's a terrific screen or even a hedge plant.
WHERE TO PLANT IT
Find a bright, sunny spot with enough space for the plant to sucker somewhat. It's not as aggressive as others of its species, but it will make a fairly wide plant down the road. If you have clay soil, this is the ideal specimen. It will tolerate dense soil without mishap and is not a water gobbler. But it will need pruning after the massive display of blooms, which grow on old wood. This means it's necessary to prune now for heavy blooming next year. The more it achieves its arching shape, the more important it becomes to take out at least a third of the stems. This, alas, is what most people don't do (and why this good old plant, a Zone 5 grower, often falls into disrepute).
WHAT IT OFFERS
Terrific blooms in May and even earlier in warm parts of the country. I am crazy about plants with exfoliating bark and this one matures into a good-looking mounding plant even in winter. With the right kind of pruning, it is crazy heavy with blooms in spring. The mid-green leaves look just fine as a hedge, but, to my eye, it's a really good screening plant. It has a golden colour in autumn but is rather ordinary otherwise, so make sure you pair it with something spectacular (such as Lespedeza or a Physocarpus 'Summer Wine') to add interest in the other seasons.
SOURCE AND COST
Find it for $18 at specialty nurseries such as John's Garden (www.johnsgarden.ca) in Uxbridge, Ont.
For more plant and garden information, visit www.marjorieharris.com.