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I'm a woman entering "the third chapter" and fascinated by the journey.

Friday, May 17, 2013

A love story

I may have fallen in love with physocarpus. No, it's not the name of a space alien, but an utterly indestructible shrub native to the eastern US, which happens to be where I live. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center describes it as "fast-growing, insect and disease resistant, and drought-tolerant," but the plant is more than that. Physocarpus has been with me in my last three houses and has thrived in extremes of soil and light conditions--pure sun and sand, shade and clay--and proven itself relatively unpalatable to deer (which, when desperate enough, seem to eat anything that's not actually poisonous). Besides, it is flat-out gorgeous at its peak (in all its foliage variations) and looks good all year.

"Coppertina" in bloom and bud

"Dart's Gold" showing red stamens and full chartreuse leaf color

Physocarpus plays well with others: in this case, the dark foliage of "Summer Wine" forming a perfect background for the hot colors of Oriental poppy and an iris whose name I do not know.

 When the blossoms finish, these five-foot, arching plants will be covered with pink seed pods that I have managed never to photograph--a serious mistake on my part.

In August, the stems of "Summer Wine" will turn the rich purple of their namesake.

 "Coppertina" will continue to have perhaps my favorite foliage of any shrub and hold its own against the pink fireworks of "Tutti Frutti" hummingbird mint.

In late October, when the leaves finally fall from these plants that have given joy since early spring and asked for nothing in return, the exfoliating bark will give interest to the front border all winter.

If physocarpus were human, I'd probably marry it.


David said...

~smile~ You give new meaning to the "You love it so much why don't you marry it?" comment.

As you know from Wildlife Gardeners, I purchased three ninebark shrubs. They are healthy and already at least 4 feet tall. I'm excited about them even more after reading your post.

I love winter interest. I'll have to consider planting some where I can see them from the house.

What kind of pollinators go to the flowers?

Rebecca said...

David, I mostly see small early bees and the flies that resemble bees.