May 25, 2011

Shasta Showstopper

I spent a week in mid May amidst the beautiful, mature, elegant plantings of the Missouri Botanical Garden, and I came home expecting to be deflated.  How could my immature, sparse, developing garden ever compete with what I had seen?  How could my plantings ever grow to look like the inspiring gardens at the botanical garden?

We pulled into the driveway, completely pooped after our trip, and this is what I saw:

It's my doublefile viburnum (V. plicatum tomentosum 'Shasta') and it rivals anything I saw at the country's premiere botanical garden.  It is still young.  I planted it in 2008, moved it in 2009, and it did not bloom at all after the move.  But now, in 2011 it has apparently forgiven me for the prior uprooting. 

The horizontal branching makes it look like a tiered wedding cake.

This is what the lacecap flowers look like:

It is planted in the back garden, with the young red maple and a random assortment of perennials, shrubs and groundcovers.  It clearly is the anchor and the star of this garden.  It will get much, much bigger, but there is room, and its horizontal spread is a welcome form beneath the maple which will also get much, much bigger and a lot taller.

In the fall, it turns a deep mahogany color.

It is such a stunner.  It redeemed my flagging faith in my own garden after seeing a professional, mature, well established and highly tended public garden.

I may not have the wonders of a 79 acre botanical garden managed by a staff of 500 (that's more than 6 workers per acre and that is how MoBot staffs its garden; I could do a lot with that kind of manpower).

I may not have centuries old specimens and deep shady installations with benches and bridges and stone sculptures.

But I have a doublefile viburnum 'Shasta' that blooms in the end of May and makes me stop in my tracks.

I could charge admission.


  1. Really pretty, and I like the way it grounds that side of the bed.

  2. It's beautiful! Is it fragrant? It looks like it would be. I've never seen anything like it.

  3. You most certainly could charge admission. I would gladly pay. I have one of these beautiful shrubs. It is in much more shade than yours. When it blooms it looks like white clouds. Love it.

  4. It's always fun to go away then come home with a fresh outlook. Your viburnum was the perfect welcome.

  5. You sure could charge admission. The fall color is something else. I had no idea. Being a foliage person myself, I may have to add that to my collection. Frankly, I prefer home gardens over botanical gardens for the simple fact that home gardens are a labor love and bots are a business enterprise. A grandmother showing me the tree her husband planted when their first child was born will always reel me in. Thanks for the heads up on the burning bush... I had NO idea. As for the barberry, I thought the "clogging up the ponds" types were banned in 2006 or so. I have three Japanese Barberries (not yet planted) and I thought these were safe. I'll look into it before I do anything. Enjoy Shasta! She was happy to see you!!!

  6. Hi Laurrie,
    I'll buy a ticket! What a an absolute beauty!! And I love the burgundy fall color. I am defitinitely jotting down its name.

  7. Cyndy, thanks. Your 'Mariesii' is a beauty too and so far the rooting you gave me is doing ok. I have hopes for it.

    Roberta, it does not have any fragrance, but makes up for it with the shape and flowers and fall color.

    Lisa, yes it does look like white clouds!

    Joene, it certainly made homecoming a treat.

    Wendy, I can see a doublefile viburnum in your developing yard. I think you would love it, you have room, and it is a real "presence" that fills a garden. I agree with you about personal gardens versus the professional enterprises!

    Jennifer, thanks. There is another doublefile besides 'Shasta' that Cyndy at Gardening Asylum loves and hers is so graceful: it is 'Mariesii' so write that one down too!

  8. I would say your viburnum is a show stopper in autumn, too! I really like the combination of plants you have in that planting area. But I know how you feel after visiting the Botanical gardens. I have often wished for a backhoe and a crew of muscular men! But we do what we can within our limitations, and you are doing very well!

  9. Your viburnum is spectacular! I'd pay admission to see it, Laurrie:)

    I often come home from public gardens like MOBOT, too, feeling like my garden looks so small and amateurish. But then I remember how much longer those gardens have been growing and the money spent on them. But most of all, I think of the manpower they have. My garden would look a lot better, too, if I had a full-time gardening staff:)

  10. Deborah, I like the combo of plants around the doublefile viburnum too. The viburnum gets really really big and will spread quite a bit, so I will need to move the things under it.

    Rose, gardening staff--- what a concept! MoBot really does have 500 workers and 79 acres and I saw them tending and pruning and working everywhere.


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