Native Plants With Adams Garden posted a profile of chokeberries, a lovely native shrub, and one that I grow in my garden.
Aronia, or chokeberry (it really does have an unfortunate common name), is a great alternative to invasive burning bush, mainly for its red fall color, as he writes.
But whoa, mine did not look anything like the photos he posted.
I have a small stand of Aronia arbutifolia 'Brilliantissima' in the center of a roundish bed. They are leggy, bendy and tall, growing in a willowy vase shape.
Pretty in bloom (as you can see here next to a young Japanese maple 'Orange Dream'), but quite naked belowdeck.
The pictures he showed were of full, rounded shrubs, with brilliant red fall color.
My aronias are not full, not rounded and not so brilliant. They have some nice red fall color above the bare stems, but it is a softer color compared to the deep garnet itea nearby.
The leaves drop earlier than the itea, so it is naked all over just when fall colors get going. But it makes up for that with its red berries --- not an explosion like the winterberry hollies, but some nice red berries nevertheless. Nobody out there likes the berries (hence the name chokeberry I guess) so the birds leave them alone. The deer did sample them one cold winter.
Curtis suggested that I could cut back the older stems and encourage suckering below for fuller plants. Aronia does send up shoots and form large stands, but rabbits seem to love this plant and they get all the suckers when they are a foot high. My leggy plants don't get a chance to bulk up.
Besides, I kind of like the wavy, tall presence in the center of this garden. The aronia's branches arch out over the top of the iteas and other shrubs and anchor the middle of this space. There are too many full moundy shapes in here, and the tall arching aronia is a pleasant contrast rising in the middle.
In this garden chokeberry is a background plant. It doesn't have the star attributes that Curtis profiles.
It has pretty apple-blossom like flowers in spring but they are subtle and brief. It has a nice open shape but it is wispy and needs other things around it. It has fall color and berries, but mostly serves as a foil to other deeper colors and fuller foliage. It is too tall and too bare to be a specimen by itself.
But I really like it. Not everybody needs to be the star.