Got a viburnum orientale from Raulston Arboretum

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

Frankly, really looking for input from the expert: none other than VV.

This arrived today:

It's great, because I got two opulus compactum from Classic Viburnums earlier this year. And I have two trilobum that I installed last year. And a sargentii 'Chiquita' I got a while back, which was Gary's suggestion when I couldn't get an opulus. It was a fabulous suggestion - I love getting great plants I wouldn't have thought of obtaining. This guy is relatively small now, but I have three garbage shrubs in nice, sunny locations this guy can have when he grows up (get out the stump remover!)

The number and variety of birds in my garden has gone through the roof. They love these plants.

This makes 14 viburnums! Yes, a modest outlay, but there is still time - and room!

What do you think, oh, wise one?

Scott County, KY(Zone 5b)

Well, you frame me with damp paints...

This group of related Viburnums (Viburnum opulus, Viburnum orientale, Viburnum sargentii, and Viburnum trilobum) are generally suited to colder growing zones than one finds here in the Ohio River valley. Historically, it is relatively rare to find these growing successfully in my region for long periods of time - except for Viburnum opulus, which I prefer not to grow because of its demonstrated predilection to crossbreed with native populations of Viburnum trilobum and displace that species in its ecosystem.

So, I've never tried growing V. orientale and probably won't unless a gift shows up at the Valley. There are lots more I'd like to try (native and non-native) that have aptitude for our soils and climate.

I'm not totally surprised that Gary at Classic Viburnums has little to say about this species, and that Dr. Dirr has only seen it in cultivation once.

On the overall Viburnum front, there are at least 6 (maybe more) native species you can grow well there west of urban Chicago. With all those in your landscape flowering and fruiting with abandon - then your native birds, bees, bugs, and bacteria will do the greatest happy dance. This is where the synergy of native plants will always surpass the superficial (though that's what we humans see) and go to the heart of supporting the cycle of life.

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

Oh, thank you VV.

I pulled out my various Dirr tomes (Viburnums, Hardy Trees and Shrubs, Encyclopedia of Trees and Shrubs - I knew the Manual would not have it) for information. I had never heard of it. Raulston sends me the most interesting plants. I bought the big Encyclopedia because they started sending me abelias, which are not hardy here. Happily, they have teeny tiny root balls, and I pot them up at the end of the season, bring them in, and they keep blooming and are green all winter on my west facing window area and patio. The also sent me hydrangea serratas. I was used to season stretching from growing roses in pots. Into the back of the garage they go, and I am lucky enough to have inherited from the previous owner a two and a half car garage with a metal roof. I overwinter tons of stuff in there, because even when it is -10 outside it is often above freezing inside. At my last house, with a smaller garage, I simply covered them with old quilts from thrift stores. I used to get a lot of disapproval for giving advice on overwintering roses from the crowd that left us. I was chastised and told that if roses were tender they should just be left to die. In fact, you should just buy lots of little ones and stick them in the ground and let them fend for themselves. No water, no compost, no mulch. As I am sure you can tell, I really miss those guys.

The birds love the viburnums but I cringe to say that their favorite is the burning bushes I inherited. You can tell they aren't my favorite because I have never bothered to learn their proper names. I was going to remove them but they seem to be a particular favorite of a family of cardinals, and we do not appear to have the invasiveness problem here.

I love getting new and different things, but the pleasure is no greater than that of inviting back an old plant "friend" that you had to leave behind, hopefully for someone else's enjoyment, and establishing that plant in a new place.

Thank you again, VV.


Yes, I love that particular "family" as well as the doublefiles. I confess that the popcorn types do nothing for me but the tomentosum family rocks my boat. I loved it when Dirr stated that it was almost impossible to err with this family of shrubs.

I don't think I have ever seen a native trilobum that I recognized. All of them appear to be cultivars. I have owned some wonderful native plants (viburnum prunifolium, cornus alternafolia and the allegheny serviceberry come to mind) but I must confess that I did not even recognize the native viburnum dentatum when it was growing in an area about 100 feet from my door. 'Chicago Lustre' is like a wild painted lady by comparison.

Scott County, KY(Zone 5b)

You need to get out on a Viburnum tour!

There should be quite a few in relative natural areas around west ChicagoLand, like the District Parks or Forest Preserves. These viburnums, many of which I've seen myself, are part of the cycle of insects, birds raising their young, and cycling of biomass and nutrients. You can't make that up. Morton Arboretum has an excellent collection, and lots of information on where these species are found. Your strong native plant societies can also fill in informational gaps.

Viburnum acerifolium, Viburnum cassinoides, Viburnum dentatum, Viburnum lentago, Viburnum molle, and Viburnum prunifolium should be gracing plant communities near you. There's a lot of seasons of interest with just those, and you already know that there is almost no limit when you start looking at named selections, hybrids, and exotic species.

I think 'Chicago Lustre' first headlined on Bourbon Street, strutting her stuff...

Your limit is probably going to be available space, from which you can extrapolate to neighborhood needs. Note when friends, neighbors...strangers...have failing plants in their landscapes and proffer the idea (and plant, since you will always have extras) of what will suit that spot perfectly.

That's how neighborhood arboretums get underway, and improve everyone's landscapes, environments, and joy.

That article barely scratches the surface of the work done since 1987, and that has accelerated since the early '90s.

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Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

I have looked at viburnum acerifolium several times. The shade tolerance is intriguing in my new yard, the shape of the leaf and the wonderful grape color beautiful, but Dirr seems to praise it and diss it simultaneously. Yes, useful for certain conditions but rarely seen because it's scraggly. So when I was looking for shade tolerant viburnums I conferred with Gary Ladman and made choices accordingly. I was in many ways replacing things that I loved. My community (Prairie Crossing ) had a tree buying program for a couple of years, and I got a wonderful allegheny serviceberry (still my personal favorite in that group, and native, if I am correct) and a viburnum prunifolium, which the moron planters left in a wire bag that made it sucker like mad and also forced me to sacrifice some limbs because they died. They were both also substantially overpriced, but I didn't know. (They also left a Greenspire linden in a wire bag, which killed it, and then I had to get approval from my idiotic Architectural Review Committee to replant the same cultivar on the same spot - happily properly done by professionals). I have since learned that there are a lot of incompetent landscapers, since I make a lot of money correcting their errors, and I have also learned that, unless it is over a certain size, plant it yourself so that you are not at the mercy of someone who is paid by the hour to "get it done" but knows nothing about North American horticulture and furthermore does not care.

While I love many native plants I confess to being a cultivar geek IF it has been around for a while. In Dirr's new encyclopedia (reading it this morning) he notes the huge increase in patented plants. It's just a make a buck thing, in my view, and when someone excitedly talks about a new $25 plant, I suggest they wait until the end of the season when it's marked down in garden centers attached to stores and pick it up for $5 to $12 bucks and trial it.

I have a very studly battalion captain fireman (really lights up the neighborhood) across the street, who just paid big bucks to get quality landscaping installed by a garden center. These delights included a viburnum that died over the winter (it was so cute when June came and it hadn't leafed out and he asked whether it was dead) and when his phlox plants (half a dozen, and in a prominent place in his landscaping) became covered with something he asked me to identify - which was of course mildew. In 2015 you are selling someone who spent thousands on a gardening plan and installation phlox that isn't mildew resistant? I suggested he call them on it and ask for a reasonable substitute - or I could spray it once a month for him. I showed him the Bonide sulphur, explained that it was organic and safe under about 80 degrees, told him I'd take care of it, and started spraying the plants once a month. Even with tons of rain and humidity, the phlox is perfect. He comments frequently to me how much he loves it (so I get to see Mr. Studly up close).

Most people in my neighborhood are growing very old fashioned plants with limited ornamental value (spirea vanhouttei) or things that get disease on a regular basis (lots of fans of bearded iris here - I refuse to care for them because the rot is disgusting). Lots of red and yellow tulips year after year. One gentleman who was looking at my garden said that he didn't recognize anything. He was looking at acer griseum, rose Stanwell Perpetual, saponaria bouncing bett in white, and Gary Ladman's compact carlesis. I was thrilled.

Most people stop by to admire the roses, peony lactiflora and lilies (Dirr drives me nuts with his Knockouts - he writes about how thrilled he is that their presence in his new home has caused them to pop up all around him) none of which they recognize, because they are often repeat blooming antique roses. But people here always put in perennials, but almost no shrubs. So I doubt that I can convert them. I can't seem to persuade my clients of their value, even those who own 'Chicago Lustre'. But what the heck, I'll keep trying.

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

Just took some time to follow your link about Seneca Gardens. Quite cool. Here, we lost TONS of ash trees. If it is on a parkway, the community will actually pay for the entire cost of replacement if you choose a tree from the approved list. This can have some downsides. They must have planted 200 japanese tree lilacs. When I go running I can count 50 within a few blocks. Nice tree - until the flowers turn brown, and then it's hideous.

I lost the tree in front of my house many years ago, but I noticed that visitors to the neighborhood tended to go out of their way to park under your shade tree, even if it is half a block away from their destination. Frankly, unless it is a vintage jaguar (the car I fell in love with as a teenager) I really don't want to look at your car. And mine is the only house on my side of the street to face forward - the other two are on the corners. So instead I planted REALLY big stuff and two thorny roses - Madame Hardy, a lovely white non-recurrent rose from 1832, and Constance Spry, David Austin's first rose, in the first picture.

Of course, I also plant thornless roses (Kathleen Harrop, in the second picture, a sport of the famous Zephirine Droughin, which I also have), but people don't know it's thornless. Would you put your car next to this and climb out? I don't think so. Provides great protection for plants like my peonies, and insures that your beater won't mar my view for hours.

On the other hand, it attracts really lovely walkers and some entire families, who pay me the incredible compliment of saying that my house is a destination because of the plantings. For the particularly delightful, I will cut a rose or a peony and give it them.

Gardening can really bring people together.

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