Caryopteris – Popular Shrubs for the Garden
Popular shrubs which do not grow too tall, nor take up too much space, are decided assets for the small garden. Caryopteris, members of the Verbena family (Verbenaceae) come into this category and combine these assets with that of bearing blue, uncommon in shrubs.
The most popular is Caryopteris X clandonensis, a hybrid that originated at Clandon, in Surrey, nearly 80 years ago. It can grow to about 5 feet tall, but it is easy to keep it to half this height or a little more, by cutting back each April the growths made the previous year, to within two buds of their base. New shoots quickly appear and in late summer will be bearing masses of small bright blue flowers which are carried in clusters springing from the axils of the leaves.
Apart from these hybrids there is Caryopteris mongolica, a species introduced from China well over a century ago. It, too, has rich blue flowers, but is rather too tender for most gardens and, in any case, seems to be short-lived.
These caryopteris, sometimes called Blue Spiraeas or Bluebeard, because of the fringed flowers, do best in sheltered positions in full sun, though any reasonable garden, not too heavy, will suit them.