A Family Tree of Ninebark Cultivars

Karyl Seppala has a great post on Ninebark at the Beautiful Wildlife Garden blog today. She is absolutely correct that the native Physocarpus opulifolius is a wonderful shrub:  beautiful and useful to wildlife.  And while cultivars of native plants have some challenges, in a designed landscape they can be indispensable.

There are many cultivars of Ninebark, but many share the same parentage.  To keep them straight, I made a “family tree” of the most common ones.  I find it helpful, and maybe you will too.

A family tree of Ninebark cultivars

Plant This, Not That: The Book

Many of the writers at Native Plants & Wildlife Gardens have been contributing to a series of posts called “Plant This, Not That“.  In each case, we highlight a couple of plants that are invasive and/or overused and then suggest some great native alternatives.  In my most recent contribution, I focused on native groundcovers for Baltimore.

Today, I called attention to one of my absolute favorite books on native plants and one that happens to be organized along precisely the same lines.  Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants, by C. Colston Burrell, is published by the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and is consistently one of the most popular native plant books at local native plant sales.  This is true among both novices and experienced native plant gardeners.

You can read my post there, Plant This, Not That: The Book, for the full review.

Olmsted-approved Native Shrubs

Viburnum acerifolium (maple-leaf viburum), rights reserved by milesizz

I’ve written before about “Olmsted-friendly” plants, which is the term I use to refer to plants known to have been in the palette of the Olmsted Brothers design firm at the time  it was working on Roland Park.

The awesome Native Plants & Wildlife Gardens blog, to which I regularly contribute, recently ran a slightly longer piece I wrote about some of the shrubs (including the beautiful but under-used maple-leaf viburnum pictured on the right) used by the Olmsted Brothers in a 1901 landscape design for the corner of Roland Avenue and Ridgewood Road.

Click here to read the whole article.

Viburnum prunifolium (Blackhaw viburnum)

Continuing the trend of highlighting some of the great native plants which appear in a 1913 Olmsted Brothers planting plan. for Roland Park, I want to turn particular attention to Viburnum prunifolium, or blackhaw viburnum.

Viburnum prunifolium, rights reserved by jsutcℓiffe

This is a tall, upright and somewhat slender shrub or small tree. It can reach heights of 10’ to 12’ and a spread of 6’ to 8’. In Roland Park it is the perfect size to play the lead role in a privacy screen, but it could just as easily be the background for a mixed bed. It does well in sun or part shade.

Viburnum prunifolium has multiple seasons of interest. The spring blossoms are attractively creamy, the fruit is an attractive bluish-purple, and the fall foliage is a stunningly gorgeous crimson red.

This is a great shrub to add to your landscape if you like having birds, butterflies, and other pollinators around. The birds love the fruit, it is a larval host for many butterflies, and our native bees relish its flowers.

Viburnum prunifolium is very much underused, especially relative to the more common native Viburnum dentatum (e.g. Blue Muffin viburnum) and the non-native Asian viburnums. Being so beautiful and so easy to grow, it deserves a spot on your yard.

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