April 22, 2011

Yellow Shrubs

The early flowering hardy Jasmine, Jasminum nudiflorum, it is marginally hardy here in Zone 5, since it is a zone 7 plant, it will survive in a protected place. I grow mine in front of the garage, with a sunny western exposure on a raised rock wall, against a foundation, where it has survived for 7 years now. I blooms as early as late February, but this year, it started blooming in March.
Forsythia is one of those shrubs many of us plant geeks often reject, as a trash plant, but if you have not checked out the Proven Winners selection named 'Show Off', then you should. If it can change my mind about Mr. Forsythe's shrub, then it just might change yours. This selection has flowers that cover every branch, right to the ground.
I have a friend who is just starting to garden, and as a graphic designer, she is very opinionated about her color choices."No yellow" is her rule, said, almost with anger. Which reminds be of my first job many years ago, while in high school, when I worked at a private estate ( Stoddard estate, a Fletcher Steele designed garden), where Mrs. Stoddard forbid the color red or orange in the perennial borders ( dark red Snapdragons were allowed, but only the perfect shade). I also remember that her husband's father, Mr. Stoddard, (who gave the couple, as a wedding gift the esteemed landscape architect so that he could design their garden). Mr. Steele had also designed the patriarch's estate in Gloucester, MA, with much yellow ( you know I would arrive here, eventually).

Yellow doesn't bother me in the garden, but it did have me wondering yesterday, about why many people reject it. I even challenged myself, and designed an all yellow and blue garden, which surrounds my Martin house, which is full of perennials and bulbs that bloom within this limited palette. Yellow is one of nature's default colors, since botanists know that there are more species on this planet the bloom in yellow or magenta, than any other color, so, yes...yellow may be the white bread color of the plant world. Still, it can capture our hearts on dreary, early spring days.

Corylopsis pauciflora, another marginally hardy shrub here in New England, this Zone 6 plant is surviving just fine in our ephemeral bed, where it has lived for nearly ten years. Covered in pale yellow bells every spring, it blooms just before the Magnolias do.
Cornus mas, or Cornelian Cherry, is a native plant that again, one rarely sees in gardens. A very early bloomer, this Dogwood doesn't look anything like a dogwood to most people, but images four white bracts around this yellow flower, and then you can start to see the family relationship.

In the greenhouse, a Genista canariensis, the Canary Island Broom, is in bloom for most of the spring. I trained this as a topiary, and it has been moved outside since it can handle cold temperatures now that frost is light.  It has a light fragrance, similar to that of Lemon Pledge.


  1. Interesting to learn that ,Jasminum nudiflorum will bloom in a protected site in Zone 5. I am going to try it in my warmest location along a granite wall and bluestone terrace. Thanks.

  2. Always learning from your posts... thanks for sharing! L


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