February 2018

Viburnums’ fragrance perfumes the scene


Place fragrant shrubs near windows, where they perfume indoors and out.

Place fragrant shrubs near windows, where they perfume indoors and out. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

Spring is sensory overload. Not only does the earth break out in blooms, many of the flowers release delicious fragrance.

Until just a few days ago, the office, kitchen, bedroom, backyard and enclosed back porch have been perfumed by viburnums, incredibly easy-to-grow shrubs.

In a partly sunny location in the back of the yard are two Burkwood viburnums (Viburnum burkwoodii), a rounded shrub that can get up to 10 feet tall and 6 feet wide when grown in full sun. Mine are closer to 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide.

In their shadier location, the burkwoods have a more open growth. In full sun, the growth is much more dense. My burkwoods also have fewer flowers in the shade than they would have in full sun. This viburnum is semi-evergreen, retaining its foliage through winter, depending on the severity of the weather.

Outside the bedroom window and bordering the enclosed porch sits a Judd viburnum (V. x judii). This a rounded, 5-foot tall and wide fragrant beauty with blue-green leaves that turn a deep red in fall and cling to the plant for several weeks of late season color. It is in full sun, but tolerates light shade.

Like all spring bloomers, the viburnums’ flowers and fragrance were rushed through their season by the recent 80-degree days. Already, my neighbor’s old fashion lilacs (Syringa vulgaris) have burst open, adding fragrance breezes in the living room.

Soon, my ‘Miss Kim’ Manchurian lilac (Syringa pubescens subsp. patula) will begin blooming outside the living room. It is usually a few weeks later than the old fashion lilacs. ‘Miss Kim’ also is not affected by the powdery mildew fungus disease that afflicts many traditional lilacs.

These scents of the season reinforce the good sense of planting fragrant bulbs, perennials, annuals, trees or shrubs where you can enjoy their elusive attributes.

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