Kew Gardens – some other stuff that isn’t a Prunus… Cornus nuttallii, Cercis siliquastrum, Viburnum carlesii @kewgardens #springwatching

IMG_1366Cornus x nuttallii x florida

It was cherry-heaven all the way this morning, especially as I hadn’t planned on calling in and my time was short, and the cherries were the thing. Though I rather begrudged the fact that it was cloudy and grey – I’d hoped to call in on Thursday at the tail end of the mini-heatwave we have been promised and that my pictures would have the benefit of a touch of blue sky…

Single minded as I was, but you can’t help noticing things as you pass by and some treasures just needed to be investigated, like this flowering dogwood.



Viburnum carlesii (below)

IMG_1304IMG_1309A deciduous shrub now, Viburnum carlesii, with a flowers dripping with a rich perfume, reminiscent of the best old-fashioned pinks, with clove and vanilla there too, but in a blind testing, you would be forgiven for thinking it was grandma’s choice carnation…

great shrub: koreanspice viburnum, v. carlesii

WHEN WOODY PLANT EXPERT MICHAEL DIRR writes in his book “Viburnums” that the fragrance of the Koreanspice viburnum, Viburnum carlesii, “actually reaches out and engulfs passersby,” he is not exaggerating. This is a smell-it-a-mile-away shrub that I would not garden without, and it’s currently doing its engulfing thing here. Delicious.

The Koreanspice viburnum, as its common name suggests, is native to parts of Korea and Japan, but has been cultivated for more than a century as garden plant in the West. Besides its incredible fragrance, as powerful as any Daphne but maybe spicier, and flowers that fade from pink or reddish buds to the palest pink or white, it has red-fading-to-black late-summer fruit followed by and red fall foliage.  The shrub is generally rounded in habit, about as wide as high.

V. carlesii is tough, even tolerating some shade, and though the species (hardy Zone 4 or 5 to 8) can get to more than 10 feet high or slightly larger, there are more garden-worthy choices offering bigger blooms and better bud color besides an improved, more compact habit.

This is a year of big renovations in my garden, including the removal of many too-far-gone woody things, and I am thinking of adding another V. carlesii in one now-empty space.  If so, I’ll seek out a named cultivar, rather than the species, perhaps ‘Diana’ or ‘Aurora,’ both about 6-8 feet high and wide, or if it’s to go in one new cozy little spot I have my eye on, perhaps ‘Compactum’ (at only 3-4 feet high and wide in maturity). Even at that size, it promises to sends its seductive scent out to grab me well across the yard.

IMG_1303Narcissus of course there were aplenty, and I confess this is a meagre selection. Focused, I was, elsewhere… caught up by the cherries but these sweet things were dotted about and deserved some attention!

Crossing from one side of the Mediterranean Garden to the other, chasing cherries, I did detour slightly to see how the formidable Judas Tree, Cercis siliquastrum, was doing. It ought to be flowering roundabouts now but the buds, though prolific and crowding along the branch and stem, are tightly shut. Just a few days more perhaps …

IMG_1273IMG_1251IMG_1274Tulips there were and plenty of them – in the great parterre in front of the Palm House (rather too pastel for my liking, perhaps) and by the Water Lily House too –

IMG_1328IMG_1319and closing on a calmer note, the long view from the Palm House out towards the Thames and Syon House on the opposite bank.

IMG_1314IMG_1401Back to the van and off again, until the next time…

One thought on “Kew Gardens – some other stuff that isn’t a Prunus… Cornus nuttallii, Cercis siliquastrum, Viburnum carlesii @kewgardens #springwatching

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