I'm with Susan. Flowering shrubs are just magical and too little used in American yards, maybe because their bloom period is limited. The answer to that, of course, is to plant a sequence of them, so something is always exploding in the yard.
When I first moved to the country about 18 years ago, I got an interesting job in politics in Albany. I had a long commute of an hour each way every day alone in my Dodge, only bearable because 45 minutes of it was over the most beautiful country roads imaginable. The houses were mostly built in that great Greek Revival boom period between 1820 and 1850, and many of the flowering shrubs were of an "old-fashioned" type not familiar to me.
I used to love to tick off the weeks by what was blooming, and one of my favorite weeks was the bridal wreath spirea week, which followed the lilac week.
(There is some disagreement online as to whether bridal wreath spirea and spirea vanhouttei are the same plants or different. The Encyclopaedia Brittanica says the same. My shrub reference, The Random House Book of Shrubs, is no help whatsoever, mentioning neither bridal wreath nor vanhouttei.)
My Albany commute convinced me that this spirea's highest use is as a hedge, preferably in the open countryside, where it looks like a photosynthesizing waterfall.
Second best is a single spirea allowed the room to behave like falling water.
What spirea really doesn't want is a haircut. But this is exactly how most of the landscapers in my part of the world use it today, trimmed up into blocks, and trimmed at the wrong time, too, so most of the flowers go with the trimmings.
Bridal wreath spirea has silly little leaves and little disks of tiny white flowers. The flowers turn an ugly brown as soon as they fade. It's only charming if allowed to do its one trick, the fountain of blooms trick. But then, it puts much better endowed shrubs to shame.Posted by Evelyn Hadden on May 27, 2009 at 5:17 am, in the category Uncategorized.