Viburnum – Popular Shrubs for the Garden
There are over seventy-five viburnums in cultivation but most of these are little known. Some of the more popular kinds are evergreen, others deciduous, some are grown for their, some for their fruit. A few add brilliant autumn leaf colour to their other attributes.
The winter-flowering kinds are good value as they bloom at a time when flower-interest is at a premium. The old Viburnum tinus, commonly known as Laurustinus, is widely planted, usually as a specimen, although it makes a good evergreen hedge. Its heads of white flowers begin to appear in November and it is early spring before flowering ceases.
Viburnum X burkwoodii, an evergreen hybrid, with fragrant white flowers that open from early in the New Year to early spring, is outstanding. It is followed into flower by Viburnum carlesii, a deciduous species with clusters of fragrant white flowers. One of the most striking of the spring-flowering kinds is Viburnum rhitidophyllum, an evergreen, 10 feet or more tall, with large leaves, white below, and large clusters of white flowers.
This, however, is not as fine as Viburnum tomentosum in its forms ‘Lanarth’ or mariesii. This is a leaf-losing shrub, eventually about 6 feet tall, its branches held out horizontally. Along these in May and June appear flat heads of white flowers not unlike those of some hydrangeas in that the inner, fertile ones are surrounded by larger sterile flowers. The leaves of this viburnum are briefly magnificent in autumn when they turn crimson.
The leaves of our native Guelder Rose, Viburnum opulus, also colour well in autumn and add to the value of the shrub for its white flowers in May and June and its clusters of red fruits in autumn. Old specimens may reach 15 feet.
Worth growing for its fruit alone is the dwarf evergreen species, Viburnum davidii, about 2 feet tall, with bright blue berries on female plants. Both male and female types must be planted to ensure fruiting.
All these are easy shrubs to grow, and do well on chalky soils. Normal ground preparation is sufficient and nois needed unless it is to remove dead wood. All are hardy. Viburnum davidii is a good kind to grow in groups.