Unique and we think very pretty evergreen Viburnum. Small perfectly round leaves are placed in threes around the stems. In summer the terminal branches host clouds, or cymes I should say of tiny white flowers. They have no fragrance but are pretty to look at.. Moderately growing rounded shrub of great symmetry to 4′ x 6′ in 7 years. Full sun to part shade in rich, well drained soil with light but consistent summer moisture. Takes very dry conditions when established. At first glance this does not look like a Viburnum- which is charming. Its a very pretty dense growing first rate evergreen.
Plant Type: Shrub
Shrubs are the backbone of Pacific Northwest Gardens. We’re able to grow an incredible amount from all over the world. Evergreen to deciduous the choices are vast. We focus on mostly (but not all) low water species and many native western species. Shrubs are often much less thirsty than other plants and live for a long time if properly sited. They can sport amazing foliage or showy flowers. From Manzanita to Ceanothus and even Grevilleas nothing makes a garden look more western. Our choice of shrubs is from years of experience growing them in our own gardens.
The best treatment leads to success
Treat all shrubs well when you plant. Dig a large hole and apply ample mulch and water to establish well. Do not let the shrub dry out completely until you are sure it is established and make a point to mulch each shrub. This is particularly important if you are creating a hedge or massing shrubs. Treating them all consistently well is the difference between continuity and chaos.
Pruning shrubs 101
The most daunting thing about growing shrubs is pruning. I try to include information about pruning each individual plant – but there are several rules that I adhere to when I prune a shrub that I am unfamiliar with. First, if you do not know the shrub let it bloom. Take note if it blooms on established wood from the previous season or if it grows and then blooms- an indication that it blooms on new wood. If it blooms on wood from the previous season – or ‘old wood’ then you can prune it directly AFTER blooming is done. That way you have less chance of eliminating bloom for the coming season and if it blooms on new wood you are safe too. Plants that bloom on new wood can be pruned in early spring some examples are Lagerstromia, Abelia, Indigofera. Once you understand this it makes pruning MUCH less intimidating. Make sure that you have very sharp pruners and it hurts nothing to sterilize them first. 1 TBS bleach to a bucket of water and a quick dip. Pruning can introduce disease so this is prudent.
New compact plants preclude pruning
Over the eons and more so lately nursery people have been selecting shrubs for more compact habits as well as vibrant bloom. Take advantage of these slower and smaller growing tendencies in the garden. Choosing the right size plant saves work in the future and eliminates the need to prune at all.
Many shrubs will morph into trees over time
In time many shrubs can pose as small trees and this should always be figured into a design. It is far easier and more natural to let a shrub become arboreal than the tortured look and continual work of making it small. Some shrubs that go on to become trees in time are Osmanthus (many) Phillyrea, Camellias, Manzanita (many). Leptospermum. Many reach tree like proportions in a decade or so. They may have their lower limbs removed to reveal shady planting space beneath and to accentuate the view of the bark which can be quite showy. They may also be trained to single leader to produce compact appropriately sized trees for courtyards and smaller gardens for a more formal appearance.
Topiary- a precise art
Topiary is an art that we dabble in at Xera. More than just torturing plants it is a process that takes a bit of planning and plant choice. It introduces a little discipline to the gardener in the form of regular maintenance and the effects are worth the effort. For the best effects and adaptability we use the tried and true forms of myrtle. They’ve been the subject of topiary for eons and we know why. They take a lot of pruning with no harm. They live long lives in containers are drought adapted and we choose the cold hardiest cultivars. The flowers which are adorable are in perfect scale with the leaves, Topiaries can introduce small amounts of formality in a garden and we love the way this plays in larger wild landscapes.
Rely on our soils own fertility
Shrubs in our climate and soils for the most part do not need fertilizer. In fact, over time I’ve seen more ill effects of overfertilization than I have seen benefits. Most often the plant is not getting enough water and the solution is a layer of mulch and a more consistent irrigation program. Often very drought adapted shrubs will react to added water in a dramatic way- Ceanothus, Grevilleas, Leptospermums, Arctostaphylos are genus’ that respond to water in a big way- in fact they react as if having been fertilized with no improvement to the soil at all and they explode in growth. Therefore, we recommend no supplemental irrigation for these genera when established but if they are slow to take off don’t be afraid to water, Irrigation requirements are in each description as well.
Shrubs- furniture for the garden
We need to shift our definition of shrubs. For too long they’ve been the tortured class of plants. The recent trend of grasses mixes excellently with shrubs but not if they are pruned into submission. Take the time to pick the correct plant for the site and be realistic. Plants grow fast in Oregon.
Climate Adapted Plants for Gardeners in the PNW
Oregon Viburnum or Western Way Faring tree is a moderate to large native deciduous shrub. It stretches a little bit into W. Washington where it is rare but its primary populations are in western Oregon and south into N. California. Its found in moist to dry woods often on the margin where its can get at least half a day sun. It also thrives only much larger and lankier in outline in the shade. It easily tolerates winter inundation but is found on well developed soils in upland situations as well. Its common associates in the wild are Oregon white oak/Quercus garryana, Oregon Ash/Fraxinus latifolius, Cornus stolonifera. Leaves are round, glossy and scalloped and are very handsome on a well proportioned fountain shaped shrub. Shorter in full sun, taller in shade. This plant needs just a modicum of light watering for its first year and once it is thoroughly established you can set it free. In late spring off white cymes of flowers have the fragrance to me of raw potatoes. We had a large specimen of this shrub in our back 40 where I grew up near Eugene. In certain years it can produce quite a fall show with orange/red tinted leaves and translucent blue fruits. Blooms on wood from the previous year. Prune if needed AFTER blooming has ended. June. To 5′ tall in the sun to much taller in shade. Protect young plants from deer. Oregon native plant.
Rare but wonderful evergreen viburnum that has pretty elongated leaves held symmetrically on thick stems. The growth habit is branching in tiers. This displays the lovely foliage as well as the cones of white summer flowers at the branch tip. These turn into red and then black berries eagerly consumed by wildlife. To 9′ tall and 8′ wide in wide vase shape. Part shade in rich, well drained soil with regular summer irrigation. Takes very dry conditions when established. Extraordinarily cold hardy to below 0ºF with no ill effects. Moderately fast growing. SW China.
Viburnum japonicum ‘Variegatum’
Unusual and actually superior form of this species with large glossy evergreen leaves splashed with yellow. In spring flat corymbs of flowers appear and remind me of lace. Red berries follow but are consumed by birds. This form is not prone to mildew which can afflict the green leaved form. So, we love it for it’s bold leaves that look good year round and easy demeanor. To 8′ x 8′ in 10 years. Full sun to quite a bit of shade. Doesn’t burn in sun. Adaptable. Light summer water once established. Very old specimens get by with no summer water. Excellent year round appearance. Take out green reversions if they occur. Blooms on wood from the previous season- prune if needed after flowering. Specimen. Nice shrub.
Where a dapper, durable evergreen shrub is required look no further than this handsome Viburnum species. Upright growing to 5′ x 5′ in 8 years it bears glossy deep green foliage held on cinnamon red stems and petioles. In spring intricate and tiny green flowers occupy a structure much like a tinker toy. Moderately fast growing shrub for part shade to full sun. Much, much more graceful than the used and abused Viburnum davidii. Very good cold hardiness- to 0ºF. Long lived and always good looking. Regular summer water or very little once established.
Spring bouquet viburnum or Laurusitinus is a common shrub in our climate. This form lightens up what can be a very pedestrian plant. The edges of the evergreen leaves are margined in cream with an interior of soft green. This makes a shrub that glows year round and can be used to lighten up dark corners. In autumn clusters of pink buds form and hold until mid winter. Then as the days begin to lengthen it opens these clusters which are lightly fragrant and white. Strong growing shrub that requires very little water once established. To 8′ tall and 5′ wide in 6 years. Full sun to part shade to high overhead shade. Nice looking, tough shrub native to the Mediterranean very easy to grow and long lived. If a green sport appears simply prune it off to the base to retain the variegated form. Water to establish. Not deer resistant. Excellent backdrop to a mixed border or trimmed into a contained hedge. Nice fast growing screen. Blue berries sometimes follow the flowers. Buds and flowers put on a show for months. Blooms on wood from the previous season prune after flowering if needed. Naturally dense and rounded.
Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Charles Lamont’
We think this is the best form of this winter blooming shrub/tree. Large clusters of pink flowers change to white upon opening. Flowers begin in December and continue to open until March. A very long season of bloom at an important time of the year. The tubular flowers are sweetly fragrant. Tall growing vase shaped shrub to 12′ tall and half as wide. Fall color is soft peach and red and showy for quite a while. Full sun to quite a bit of shade in rich to average well drained soil with regular summer water. Great scaffold for summer blooming Clematis. Make this the star of your winter garden. Cut flowers last for a long time in a vase.
Viburnum x burkwoodii ‘Anne Russell’
Really there is nothing like the clove/carnation/sweet fragrance of this shrub in late winter to early spring. The large clusters of flowers begin as pink buds and open to white. Nice bicolor effect along the way. Blooms 3-4 weeks. Evergreen to semi-evergreen to deciduous in arctic places. Large growing shrub that can attain tree like proportions with great age. To 8′ x 4′ in 7 years. Full sun to quite a bit of shade in rich to average well drained sites. Light consistent summer water speeds growth and increases spring flowering. Otherwise relatively drought adapted, especially in shade. Tolerate the most obnoxious sticky clay soils- especially on slopes. Plant where you can pass by the flowers and take a big ol whiff. Very easy to grow. Prune AFTER flowering.
Vitex agnus-castus ‘Sensational’
Excellent California selection of Chaste tree with thicker, bluer flowers. Large growing shrub with aromatic finely divided leaves in mid-July in PDX spires of blue flowers erupt from each branch tip. It remains in bloom for 3-4 weeks. And if you remove spent flowers more will appear. Full sun and poor to average well drained soil. No summer water when established. Attains tree-like status with great age. May be pruned back hard in spring to contain the ultimate size. Blooms on new wood. Long lived and hardy below 0ºF. Leaves appear late in spring- often not until mid-May. Be patient. Loved by pollinators and bumble bees specifically. A shrub in full bloom will be a haze of drunken bumbles who after a day of working will often fall asleep in the flowers of this shrub. Tolerates the hottest sites and is very long lived.
Beaked Yucca does fantastically well in our climate and is one of the Yucca species that will form a dramatic trunk. Blue thin leaves radiate out in a perfectly round orb. Slowly rises to 8′ tall in our climate. Full hot all day sun in a warm position. Very well drained soil with light summer water during the hottest stretches to encourage growth. Occasionally, with age 4′ spikes appear holding large trusses of ivory flowers. Perfectly hardy to cold, way below 0ºF. Avoid cold wet sites- to really do well it needs heat and exposure. Not prone to bacterial leaf blight that affects other Yucca species. Good air circulation. Lives happily in large containers for eons. Focal point in many of the best gardens in our region. High deer resistance. Evergreen.