March 27, 2009

Inspired by Spirea

For flowering shrubs that are small enough to tuck into a mixed border of perennials, I use a few spirea in my full sun, deer resistant, zone 7 garden. The bloom and leaf colors work well in my color scheme.

There are so many spirea that I can't begin to give you a good summary on performance since I have only three varieties. At a previous house, I grew Spirea japonica 'Shirobana' (Japanese Spirea) that had pink and white flowers. However, the deer picked those blooms so I didn't plant that variety in this garden.

Spirea x bumalda 'Magic Carpet' (correct me if this is wrong as the shrubs weren't labeled) and spirea japonica 'Neon Flash' have performed well with minimal deer sampling of the flowers. The sampling seems to occur on the re-bloom in August rather than the more bountiful blooms in early summer. The summer leaves don't seem to be of interest and since these are deciduous shrubs, there's no winter damage. Although deciduous, the spirea are among the earliest shrubs to leaf out in the spring.

The 'Magic Carpet' starts out with rusty orange leaves that give way to green-gold as the deep pink blooms appear in May through June. It's a short, mounding shrub and hasn't exceeded 18" in the three years that it has been growing in my garden.

I have another spirea japonica 'Golden Elf' that I grow for the bright leaf color as a mounding ground cover. 'Golden Elf' quickly grows to 1' x 2' for a bright splash among darker leaves. It looks great as a companion with nepeta 'Six Hills Giant' in bloom with blue flowers.

My favorite spirea is 'Neon Flash' as the darker green leaf color and the deep carmine blooms make it a great companion for agastache 'Cana', echinacea 'Ruby Star' and salvia greggii 'Dark Dancer'. I also have monarda 'Blue Stockings' and 'Raspberry Wine' as well as chives growing in the section with the 'Neon Flash' spirea. This is the spirea that inspired my color scheme of shades of deep pink, magenta and blue.

Story and photos by Freda Cameron
Freelance travel writer. My current fiction writing projects include a completed manuscript and several works in progress.

By the way, my name is pronounced fred-ah, not freed-ah. Thank you.

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