Deutzia x rosea
Flowering deciduous shrubs are a mainstay of colder climate gardens but less popular in our temperate to warm climes. This means that many gardeners miss out on delights such as this little deutzia. In winter it is a bare bunch of twiggy branches, in summer it is an anonymous leafy shrub with smallish, pointed leaves but in late spring it comes into its own with a mass of small starry flowers. The flowers are comprised of five slightly pleated, bi-coloured petals which sit flat like a daisy with a centre boss of pale gold stamens. If you look closely, they resemble icing flowers or ones made from fabric. There are plenty of blooms held in clusters and it is very pretty and dainty.
Deutzias are a relatively large family of hydrangea relatives and most originate in parts of Asia which experience colder winters. They are cold hardy, unaffected by even heavy frosts. While there are a large number of different species and hybrids, D. x rosea is hybrid between gracilis and purpurascens. Like the majority of deciduous flowering shrubs, it prefers sunny conditions though it doesn’t seem to be too fussy on soils. I think it is best treated as a border shrub where it can shine when in flower and gently meld into the background when it isn’t.
Corylopsis pauciflora – short flowering season in our climate, but charming
This dainty delight is in full bloom now and a good reminder of why I like having a large garden. It is so pretty in flower for a maximum of two weeks in late winter or early spring. For the remaining fifty weeks of the year, it is an anonymous looking shrub. If you only have a small garden, you need plants that work a bit harder than that to justify their space. But for those two weeks when its light, arching branches are clothed in pale lemon witch hazel flowers (it is a member of the witch hazel family, Hamamelidaceae), it has an understated grace and charm. It is also pleasantly scented. When the flowering finishes, saw toothed leaves in dull greeny bronze will take over.
C. pauciflora is one of the more compact species, making maybe 1.5m high by 2m wide. These are hardy, deciduous shrubs from cooler parts of Asia and Japan and are best suited to open woodland areas (in other words, humus rich and semi shaded). We also have C. willmottiae ‘Spring Purple’ which has similar delicate primrose blossom but with purple new growth. It has yet to come into bloom here but it grows to twice the size so it needs a fair bit of space for its 14 days of glory. The flowering period appears to be extended in colder climates.
First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.