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  • Writer's pictureDebi Holland

Fagus Times Summer Snow - Viburnum

I have been invited to write a monthly plant of the month for Fagus Gardening Club's 'Fagus Times' by Fagus President Mary Payne MBE.

In June's Fagus Times Issue 16 I explore the complicated world of viburnum!

Our weather has been pretty crazy this year and I hope, of course, we do not actually encounter snowfall in June but there are some rather beautiful shrubs, which evoke thoughts of snowy days that I look forward to seeing in late spring and early summer.

Viburnum boasts a huge diverse genus of over 150 species all with their own specific botanical features but be aware some of the names can cause confusion!

Viburnum opulus ‘Roseum,’ (sterile) Snowball tree

This stunning deciduous hardy shrub has to be seen to be believed. May and June brings a flurry of snowball-like clusters of huge white flowers, reminiscent of cheerleader pom poms that seem to out weigh the boughs of their long leafy stems. The plant is positively laden with blooms. It is easy to grow in sun or shade in all well drained soils and as the season turns so does the leaves to purple-red tinted foliage.

In contrast V. opulus, the Guelder rose is not sterile but instead provides great autumn interest with copulas bright red berries with birds devour. Popular with pollinators and a good all rounder for wildlife as native hedge habitat, providing food for caterpillars, high pollen and nectar for insects.

Viburnum plicatum f. tomentosum 'Mariesii,' Japanese Snowball Bush

In contrast the V.plicatum f. tomentosum 'Mariesii' has tiered branches like a layered wedding cake or a snow-laden bush, which gracefully cascade down the shrub. The common name, Japanese Snowball Bush, is misleading, as there is not a snowball in sight here but instead hydrangea-like lacecap white flowers raised above the stem in double rows.

Another popular variety is ‘Kilimanjaro’ which resembles a snow-covered mountain and ‘Kilimanjaro Sunrise’ was recognised by the RHS Chelsea Flower Show as Plant of the Year 2015 and rightly so!

The wild form is native to Japan, China and Taiwan. It grows in all well-drained soil types, favours full sun or partial shade and requires very little attention.

I think you will all agree, Viburnum are definitely a fascinating genus and although I want the sun to keep shining and temperatures to remain warm, we can welcome some snow in summer with open arms!

All photos © Debi Holland


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