Photo by Mark Kane
Twice as Nice
Can you name a shrub that flowers twice in the same growing season? Me neither, at least I couldn’t until I met Seven-son flower. It’s a big, rangy, deciduous shrub from China that makes small white flowers in clusters, then “blooms” again when the calyx at the base of the flower buds spreads open into skinny pink “petals.” The white show and the pink show prolong the flowering season over two months (with a pause in the middle).
This shrub is still a youngster in gardening, introduced from China in 1980, but it has plenty of admirers already for its hardiness (Zone 5, maybe Zone 4), its bloom, and its bark, which peels in strips. It’s from the honeysuckle family and like many of its kin wants to make a lot of stems, but with pruning, it can be trained to a single trunk. Allowed to branch at will, it can reach 15 to 20 feet tall and almost as wide.
So Seven-son flower has three seasons of interest: winter, for the bark, summer for the white flowers, and early autumn, for its cloud of pink. This is a promising shrub for larger gardens, happy in full sun and light shade, not fussy about soil and moderately fast-growing. The one at Iowa Arboretum, half an hour from Des Moines, is ten years old and eight feet tall.
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