“Curtain” Shrubs for the Spring Garden

Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum, March 25 - April 7, 2019
David Zuckerman
Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum, March 25 – April 7, 2019

1)   Corylus maxima  ‘Atropurpurea Superba’                          Purple Leaf Filbert

  • This very large growing European filbert shrub is festooned with catkins before the purple leaves form, giving an impression of a pendulous curtain of 3-inch mauve spikes.
  • Its size can be controlled by thinning out the oldest stems in spring.
  • This cutting is from a mature specimen located at the service entrance to the Broadmoor Golf Course. Other specimens can be found in the Witt Winter Garden and Azalea Way.

2)   Garrya elliptica  ‘Siskiyou Jade’                          Coast Silk-Tassel Bush

  • ‘Siskiyou Jade’ is a selection of Garrya elliptica from Fairmeadow Nursery in Olympia, WA, which specializes in Pacific Northwest natives, including many plants from the Siskiyou Mountains in Southwest Oregon.
  • This drought-tolerant broadleaf dioecious evergreen shrub is most showy when the female catkins have fully elongated in late winter and early spring, hence its common name “silk-tassels”.
  • ‘Siskiyou Jade’ can be found in the southeastern corner of the Witt Winter Garden.

3)   Oemleria cerasiformis                          Indian Plum

  • This Pacific Northwest native deciduous shrub (which is also dioecious) is truly a harbinger of spring as it is one of the earliest to flower and leaf-out in our forests.
  • A particular grouping was found, creating a subtle but quite attractive “curtain” along the east side of Azalea Way, south of the pine hillside.
  • It can be found most abundantly throughout the Arboretum’s forested ridge.

4)   Ribes sanguineum                          Red-flowering Currant

  • Yet another Pacific Northwest native deciduous shrub that is also very early to flower and leaf-out.
  • The cascading racemes of flowers with reddish-pink petals along with the bright green new foliage make this a truly remarkable “curtain” shrub in the landscape.
  • This sample was taken from a specimen located near the high point of our Cascadia Forest exhibit in the Pacific Connections Garden.

5)   Stachyurus praecox

  • This stunning Japanese deciduous shrub is truly a sight to see when flowering!
  • This specimen’s extraordinarily long pendant racemes of 4-petalled flowers remind me of a beaded curtain popular during the 1960s-1970s hippie-fashion period.
  • It can be found in full glory along the east side of Arboretum Drive, across from Woodland Garden.