June 6, 2013

The Flowering Shrubs of June

Bridal Wreath Spirea

June is a time of glories in my garden, but before the peonies start blooming, and just as irises are opening, some of the shrubs around the property, wild and cultivated, are blooming. This spirea is a mass of white against a dark sky. It was the gift of a friend, the painter Gwen Fabricant, and is now, after many years, a large and beautiful specimen.

Nannyberry, Viburnum lentago

Dramatic in a different way, this Nannyberry that I planted as a stick almost 20 years ago, is enormous and spreading. It is a plant native to the area and seems very happy in its spot alongside the barn.

Nannyberry flower

In early June it is covered in white flowerheads, a compound mass of tiny flowers.

Snowball Viburnum opulus flower

The Snowball is a shrub that is rather gangly, but has large groups of round white flowers, hanging softly and lovely to see from my office window as I work.

Honeysuckle Arnold Red

A haze of pink brightens the still mostly green flower border in the backyard.

Japanese Barberry, Berberis thunbergii

A number of barberry shrubs were scattered about along the back stone wall when I moved in here years ago. It was introduced in the 19th century and has become an invasive plant. I pull up seedlings wherever I see them, and really should have someone come and cut them down.

Barberry flowers

But the flowers are pretty, dangling like small chandeliers from spiny stems, and they are sweetly scented. The plants later have bright red berries and the leaves turn to red in Fall.

American Cranberry, Viburnum trilobum

I planted this viburnum, along with the Snowball, behind my house 20 years ago. I also had a White ash planted for shade. When I moved here there was no shade and the backyard was quite austere; now, with the tree grown (I hope I never get the ash borer) and the shrubs large and leafy, the backyard is quite a cozy place to sit on a warm summer's day. I posted this rather nondescript photo because it shows a bit of the well cover: that green metal surface on the lower left. My water supply comes from a dug well, thirteen feet deep, still lined with the old stones from when it was originally dug.

American Cranberry flowers

The flowers of the American cranberry are complex like that of other viburnums. Here, contrary to expectation, the outer fully petaled flowers are sterile while the inside ones, which will open to tiny flowers, are fertile. I enjoy having these sturdy plants in the garden, carefree, and blooming freely.


  1. I have a garden design book with a picture of a long curving drive lined on both sides with billowing Bridal Wreath. They are growing as they should with the branches arching and flowing downward. A gorgeous image of a brilliant idea.

    1. That must be an amazing sight, Ms. Wis; they are stunning shrubs in bloom.