July 18, 2012

Exploding Rockets

A crazy explosion has ignited at the back of my garden.

The bottlebrush buckeye blooms have shot out and up. Big white rockets aim for the meadow, the yard, the house.  Kapow.  Incoming.


These rangy big shrubs are Aesculus parviflora, just now blooming in the heat of mid July. They are still immature, and will get much, much larger.

I planted several in fall 2007, in a line along the edge of the meadow. The idea was to make a large hedge to screen our yard from the wild area beyond.

For the first three years they just looked goofy.  Silly.


By 2011 they were putting on size, and I was thrilled when candles bloomed for the first time.

Those flowers became the characteristic nuts that look like the eye of a deer (I guess) and give these shrubs, and their tall tree cousins, the name buckeye.  I was amazed when I first saw the heavy nuts on my spindly shrubs.

In spring 2012, getting ready to bloom, they looked like a real hedge. When I stood next to them, I realized they are now as tall as I am. They will become 12 foot high monsters and soon, I think.


When the candles open they are creamy white --- not a showy color in the full-on glare of midsummer light, but they stick out every which way in reckless array. They really do look like straight bottlebrushes, very tubular.



A little more info about growing Aesculus parviflora ---

It is a woodland shrub that wants a shady, moist location. I planted them in full sun, not having any shade to speak of. They have rewarded me with fast growth and much more exuberant flowering than they would have produced in shade, but the big leaves do scorch in summer. And I have to water them if we don't get weekly rain. Which we haven't had this year.

The leaves are big floppy palmate leaves that look just like horse chestnut foliage, and they turn a brilliant clear yellow in fall.

Bottlebrush buckeye will become very big.  If you grow it, make room. I had space out in the open between the mowed yard and the umowed grassy area, but at a mature 12 x 12 and spreading even bigger by suckering, each of these five buckeyes is going to cover an awful lot of ground.


They are explosions of blooming candles now as young rangy bushes.  What will they look like when they are as big as a fleet of tour buses out there?

26 comments:

  1. I love these. There is a plant around these plants that has a similar bloom which I would love to plant as a hedge. They bloom around now, in both white and purple and is lovely. I almost got excited when I saw yours, hoping I would find out what it is I want to plant, but the leaves are very different :-)

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    1. Ruth, could the plant your are seeing be buddleia - butterfly bush? They are big and rangy, and have purple or sometimes white arching spikes. They are not as big and clumpy as the bottlebrush buckeyes, but that might be what you see blooming now with big spikes in summer.

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  2. It is great that you have enough property to let these beauties grow and bloom up a storm. WOW those rockets are gorgeous. I have a smaller version of buckeye shrub. Not sure what it is called. The blooms are pink/orange. It does make buckeyes too. Not this year though, too dry.

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    1. Lisa, even though I have enough space for them, I think in a few years I will be overwhelmed by their size. Pink / orange blooms on a small buckeye shrub? ... I was not aware of this, I'll have to check it out. Sounds perfect, size-wise and for color!

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  3. They look great, and I like the way they make the meadow a "secret" feature of the garden.

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    1. James, initially these were planted to keep the unmoved weeds at bay and screen us from it. Now I like the idea of the buckeyes framing the meadow, and I enjoy the way you put it --- the hedge makes the meadow a secret feature beyond, to be discovered. You've given me a new way to look at this.

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  4. It's so rewarding to see how a garden progresses from planting straggly starters to the evolution of a vision! I am always shocked when I look back at the photos of my early garden. Thanks for sharing these lovely photos. I don't have room for such a lusious hedge but I can enjoy yours!!

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    1. Barbara, I absolutely love looking at old, early photos of a garden (my own, or others') and then seeing the progress. Watching a living tapestry and emerging design unfold is wonderful.

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  5. Wow, these have really grown, Laurrie! I first saw a mature bottlebrush buckeye on a garden walk a few years ago, and it was HUGE...and beautiful. These are going to make a lovely hedge for you, much prettier than a fleet of tour buses in your backyard:)

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    1. Rose, I have seen huge specimens too when I visit gardens, and they can be stunning. Most are in shade, so it will be interesting to see if I get the same growth habit in full sun.

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  6. Laurrie, I'm glad to see your patience rewarded with such an impressive *kapow!* As notable as the blooms are, my eye is drawn more to the fruit; birds get to mine much too early.

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    1. Lee, It hasn't taken too long for the funny little shrubs I planted to get big and bloom big. These put on real size fast.

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  7. I think that is a very unique way to separate the two areas. It is amazing how much they have grown in three years!

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    1. Zoey, it really is rewarding to see so much growth so quickly!

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  8. wow, I'm impressed how quickly these have grown. They were quite tiny to begin with and so substantial now. Great choice as they will be a beautiful hedge in coming years.

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    1. Marguerite, I'm a little worried they will grow too big for the space, but right now it is neat to see how much they have grown. I love looking back at the older photos.

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  9. What an awesome hedge!! If they get too big, just dig up a bunch of grass and voila! More room! They must be amazing in the fall. Love the candles. Perfect description. Please check out my response to your comment on my last blog. I think you'll be surprised.

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    1. Tammy, I already need to dig out more grass on either side of the growing hedge. They have gotten way too big for the strip of garden soil they were originally planted in and are overtaking lawn.

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  10. Those would get deep fried extra in the sun down here in NC but they look good up there. The golden fall color is lovely.

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    1. Sweetbay, they fry in our hot sun somewhat too, but seem to thrive. I didn't photograph the brown scorch on some of the leaves. With water they do well enough up here in sun.

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  11. I too am impressed with how quickly the Bottlebrush buckeye have grown. They do look a bit pathetic and small in the first shot from 2007, but now they demand respect. I bet your hubby no longer laughs as he drives by on the mower. Have a great weekend!

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    1. Jennifer, it's fun to see their growth over the years. I'm glad I took photos even when they were funny looking little shrubberies.

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  12. Unbridled buckeye!!! Glad you have the space and the history pix. Best

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    1. Patrick, thanks! They really are starting to look "unbridled"!

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  13. That is a great display. So nice to see that many together. You have the perfect setting for them.

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    1. Gardener on Sherlock, thanks -- but I am worried that even in this open setting I may not have enough room for these big guys.

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