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Sunday, 21 February 2016 11:00

Michael Dirr Shrub Crawl

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Do you know Dr. Michael Dirr?  He is considered a legend in the horticultural field for many reasons, the biggest of which, by weight, is Dirr’s Encyclopedia of Trees and Shrubs.  It is a compendium so complete we are in awe that it could be collected and fit into one book.

At the iLandscape 2016 show he graced us with a “shrub crawl”, showing some of the top choices for shrubs and what makes them great.  We cannot do his presentation justice in writing because he is quite the speaker, funny and engaging.  What we can do though is give you a list of the shrubs he talked about, with a few details if they don’t already speak for themselves.  Below is a summary of many of the shrubs featured, some you may know and others are quite new.

Let’s start with boxwood (Buxus), a staple in a formal garden.  Green Velvet boxwood was featured with a reminder that it is favored by bees when in bloom in the spring, adding to its value, which can often be limited to a structural presence.

Two viburnums were mentioned, both being natives, Forest Rouge blackhaw viburnum, the ‘McKRouge’ culitvar of Viburnum prunifolium; and Buccaneer witherod viburnum the ‘Buccaneer’ cultivar of Viburnum cassinoides.  They both sport lovely white flowers, colorful fruit and fall color.

Mariani Landscape Cornus sericea Redtwig DogwoodMore natives were praised, like Aesculus parviflora, bottlebrush buckeye.  It produces a fantastic flower and naturally controls weeds beneath its spread.  Cornus sericea ‘Bergeson’, commonly ‘Bergeson’ redtwig dogwood, is a native covering eastern North America.

Physocarpus opulifolius, ninebark, was also featured with two different cultivars. ‘Donna May’, Little Devil ninebark, has small, purple-tinged foliage and is considered a tough little gem.  It is pictured on the left in the image below.  The ‘Jefjam’ cultivar, Amber Jubilee ninebark, has unique coppery, yellow-orange foliage; bright orange in the spring, fades a bit in summer and then goes russet in fall.  This one is zone 2 hardy, excellent for far north climates.

Mariani Landscape Eastern Ninebark Daylily Black-eyed Susan

Mariani Landscape Centennial Blush Magnolia 5217Two more specimens that Dr. Dirr praised were hybrids he worked on personallyMagnolia stellata ‘Centennial Blush’, or ‘Centennial Blush’ magnolia, is thrilling because its fragrant flowers have a “massive number of tepals”, more than four dozen.  It flowers young and buds are prolific.  It will be about 10-15 ‘ tall and can be single or multi-stem, with an upright habit, hardy root system, and “performs as promised”.

The last one we will mention today is a bigleaf hydrangea, Hydrangea macrophylla, from the Endless Summer® series. This one is called BloomStruck®, and it is one of those new specimens.  It had been in development for 5 years and they began marketing in 2014.  Dr. Dirr spoke in such favor of this hybrid many were very excited.  It is touted as an incredible rebloomer, rich in color, and cold hardy, even the old wood buds are said to handle sub-zero temperatures.

If you have seen any of these, be it the cultivars or the straight species, Instagram your pictures with #MyMariani and tell us a bit about how they are doing in your garden.  And join us next time, here in our garden.

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Seattle Rockeries creates hardscapes and landscapes using stones, boulders and concrete structures.

Hardscaping creates structures that can be used on slopes and hills to prevent erosion and create water barriers or drainage.