September 19, 2013

The Dawn of Realization

For the longest time I wanted a Viburnum bodnantense 'Dawn'. It has fragrant pink blooms in April, and grows upright and narrow for a viburnum.

I found a good sized 15 gallon container plant in early 2011 and put it right next to the house, where I could open a window on a warm early spring day and smell its fragrance.

It has bloomed beautifully, although the fragrance wan't much to detect. It's still young, and I hope for more scent as it gets bigger and more floriferous.

The pink blooms were certainly pretty and a welcome sight outside the window when there was not much else to see in April. There is a lot to like about this tall shrub, and I am expectantly waiting for it to mature, flower profusely and fill in.

But this summer a couple things have dawned on me about 'Dawn'.

First. . . . is it supposed to look like this?

It is growing fast, as viburnums do. But really, is this its form? Does anyone else grow Dawn viburnum and can you tell me it is simply immature and will outgrow this awkward stage? The way this plant is growing is bizarre.

Here it is from the other side, just as rangy. I have pruned it extensively, cutting off the wilder arching branches, only to see them regrow in exactly the same direction and exactly the same goofy way.

Second . . .  it has dawned on me that "tall and upright" does not mean you should plant it within a foot of the house. From inside the dining room it looks a little scary, with those probing branches angling to get in the window.

I have no excuses. I need to be supervised when there is a shovel in my hands and I am anywhere near the foundation of the house.

This is where any gardeners who have a Dawn viburnum can leave a comment saying Viburnum bodnantense 'Dawn' will grow into an elegant shape next year, the flowers will develop a delicate but intense aroma, and the final form of this shrub will be decidedly narrow, no more than three feet across at maturity.

16 comments:

  1. I have not grown this viburnum though you had me rolling again when you mentioned it being sort of scary from your window! Good luck with this one...wish you lived closer...I would have you look at my Forest Pansy. The darn thing is leaning and I have it staked. Looks kinda..well...maybe I will send you a pic! Have a good one friend!!

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  2. Mine is in it's second summer and is 1 1/2 ft. tall, but full.Are you sure it is Dawn? Yours looks like it has been given lots of nitrogen. Maybe from the lawn?

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  3. I wish I could tell you it's going to grow into an elegant shape...but I don't know anything about this particular viburnum. I only have one Viburnum, a 'Cardinal Candy,' which is supposed to be a smaller one. I've waited three years for it to get any growth at all, though, and was happy to see that this year it's finally getting a little taller. It does look like yours, if it gets much bigger, might be a little too close to the house.

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  4. In my experience, it's hard to maintain any large shrub at less than three feet in diameter-especially one that gets that tall. Out of curiosity I did a google image search. Many of the images showed a shrub that you might consider narrow relative to other Viburnums but still upright and vase shaped. Hmmm...

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  5. Are you sure you have a 'Dawn'? I don't have one but this one isn't growing the way my other viburnums are. Maybe it needs a new spot with a full circle of sun to help in its development. It might create a different shape if it had more room - advice from someone who planted a viburnum trilobum 3 ft from the house. Oops!

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  6. Hm...Great Plant Picks lists Dawn as being 8-feet tall and 10-feet wide at maturity.

    Missouri Botanical Garden says 8-10 high and 4-6 wide http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/gardens-gardening/your-garden/plant-finder/plant-details/kc/e299/viburnum-x-bodnantense-dawn.aspx

    So there you go. It's either going to grow 4-feet wide or 10-feet wide. Isn't the Internet helpful? ;)

    FWIW, I'd relocate it to a spot at least 3-5 feet away from any walls. Maybe you could just expand the foundation bed and move a couple feet further from the wall? I've realized that many foundation beds are WAY too narrow to accommodate the cool plants we all want to grow.

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  7. I planted my vitex too close to the house, and like you, I quickly realized that this plant was going to get a lot bigger than I had in my mind! If you cut off branches, only to have them regrow the same way, I would say that it will not be the narrow thing you have in your mind. Good luck with it.

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  8. Hmm - from the comments, it sounds as if the evil plant label elves may have been at work again. It kind of reminds me of me in gym class when I was a kid. You could wait, but then by the time that you realize it isn't going to outgrow its awkward stage, it might be too big to move. I vote for moving it now.

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  9. I do not know the mature look of this shrub but I kind of like it's wild look. It kind of looks like it is dancing. It just looks lonely and when you plant around it it will be much more in it's element. I agree with a commenter above, I think it is too close to the house and should come out to at least the edge of the bed possibly, which means widening the bed. Then underplanted with other stuff would look quite nice. The thing that worries me is not having the fragrance...leading one to think it was mislabeled possibly.

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  10. Hi Laurrie, I don't have this one, but photos I have seen show a large vase shaped plant. I think you may need to relocate it. My plants seem to always grow larger than predicted. My dwarf yaupon hollies were supposed to mature at 3 feet. Ha! I keep them at 4x5 feet with pruning. If I let them go, no telling how large they would be by now.

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  11. Thank you to all who commented above, I appreciate your thoughts about this crazy viburnum. I am on the road this week, driving through western North Carolina and Virginia -- with very limited internet access and no time to blog, so I haven't responded, but I have read your comments. Thanks!

    Laurrie

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  12. I plant trees and shrubs too close as well...I just seem to forget their mature height and width.

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  13. I have no this specie Dawn viburnum but mine is not in elegant shape too. I pruned it last spring and fall but it grows as it likes.

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  14. I have a few Viburnum, but not Viburnum bodnantense 'Dawn'. It does have a bit of an awkward shape doesn't it? I wonder if it might be better planted in combination with some evergreens?

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  15. Oh man, this is such a bummer! Those pink flowers are just perfect.

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  16. My first thought was - that can grow in zone 5?!?!? Had i known!! Now where can I get one.... but must remember not to plant it near the foundation (sorry, have never grown this myself so can't offer anything helpful other than these smell brilliant in early spring)

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