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Niagara Falls
Thursday, May 23, 2024
Growing Together: Some mid-spring beauties blooming at home
Mount airy fothergilla. Joanne Young
Yellow Magnolia. Joanne Young
Redbud. Joanne Young

I must make a confession: as soon as the spring starts to blossom, my driving skills come into question.

I am forever turning my head this way and that, trying to get a glimpse of everything in bloom. I don’t want to miss a single flower.

So, if you see someone driving erratically, be patient, it might just be me. We live in such a beautiful area with so much to see.

Here is a look at just a few noteworthy trees and shrubs either in bloom presently or blooming over the next couple of weeks.

It is hard not to notice all the gorgeous pink flowering Magnolia trees blooming over the last couple of weeks. Over the past few years, I have found the Magnolias really standing out to me are the lesser-known yellow flowering varieties.

Some of the cultivars that can be found at garden centres are: ‘Elizabeth,’ ‘Yellow Bird,’ and ‘Butterflies.’ Most yellow flowering cultivars are a cross between the native Cucumber Magnolia (Magnolia acuminata) and Magnolia denudata making the yellow varieties hardy to zone 4.

The native Redbud trees (Cercis canadensis) are just starting to open up. The genus name comes from the Greek word kerkis meaning “weaver’s shuttle,” in reference to the seed pod’s shape.

It is often found as a multi-trunked understory tree with a rounded crown that grows up to 20 to 30 inches tall with a slightly larger spread. It is particularly noted for its stunning pea-like rose-purple flowers that bloom profusely on bare branches in mid-spring before the foliage emerges.

There are many cultivars sold such as a burgundy leaf variety named ‘Forest Pansy,’ also a white flowering one and various weeping forms as well. It grows best as an understory tree, meaning under the canopy of a larger growing tree.

One of my favourite flowering shrubs is Fothergilla, sometimes called the ‘bottlebrush shrub’ due to its unique fragrant, white, spikey flowers in mid-spring.

Fothergilla is in the Hamamelidaceae (Witchazel) family. This dwarf shrub is one that isn’t well known but should be used a lot more in landscapes.

Its slow-growing habit makes it a very low-maintenance plant with very little pruning required. The most commonly sold cultivar is ‘Mount Airy’ (Fothergilla gardenii ‘Mount Airy’). It will slowly reach a height of three to five inches and is cold hardy to zone 5. It flowers best in full sun but will tolerate a bit of shade.

Not only is it a wonderful spring bloomer, but its fall colours – yellows, oranges and reds – are also spectacular. It’s a sure winner in any garden.

Another mid to late-spring flowering shrub that is not well known is Deutzia. One cultivar of particular interest is Chardonnay Pearls’ Deutzia (Deutzia gracilis ‘Chardonnay Pearls’).

Deutzia is best known for its masses of small frilly white flowers from late May to early June. The cultivar ‘Chardonnay Pearls’ offers the same white flowers with the addition of lime/yellow foliage.

The flowers will last for about two to three weeks. Then, you have the added bonus of the yellow foliage that will provide colour for the rest of the season.

Deutzia does best in full sun, six or more hours plus, for best flower production and to retain leaf colour but can tolerate a light shade.

So, on your next trip to the garden centre, while looking for something a bit different, make sure to check these plants out.

Joanne Young is a Niagara-on-the-Lake garden expert and coach. See her website at joanneyoung.ca.

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