I've sung the praises of this super-sustainable shrub, the beautybush or Kolkwitzia - as a prime nesting place for birds. As a shrub that arrived via UPS looking pitiful but hit the ground running - or growing. As a fast grower that never needs supplemental watering, which is saying quite a lot in these days of record drought. I even defended it against Michael Dirr's dissing: "dull foliage," "little to excite even a passionate gardener."
But this report isn't about the plant but about where I had it growing - wedged in between the garage, a large Miscanthus grass, a full-size cherry laurel and a fast-growing Arborvitae 'Green Giant' - and you can take the word "giant" as a giant tip-off.
In the next photo you see it tied up and pruned back enough to not interfere with its neighbors, constrained to act like some scrawny rhododendron, not the huge, sprawling, 8x8 mound of lushness it wants to be.
So as you see in the final photo, I took the seemingly drastic but harmless step of moving the shrub to a large open area. Granted it doesn't look like much yet - because it's been hacked back to a shadow of its former self, not to mention of its potential self.
Next spring I'll report on whether this beauty lives up to its name, despite its inability to excite the likes of Michael Dirr. Actually, Dirr concedes the beautybushes are easy to grow and may have a place in the shrub border, but that he's seen too many free-standing examples in need of help. If by that he means they need a good pruning - I agree! Vigorous shrubs like beautybush need renewal pruning every year, which simply means removing the oldest 1/3 of the stems back to the ground. Given that 15 minutes of maintenance every year, this shrub will, I promise, deserve a stand-alone spot in the garden, especially from a distance (because Dirr's right - the foliage isn't spectacular). And with this beautybush now standing quite alone at the back of my neighbor's very large backyard, we'll soon see who's right.
See how gardeners, facing the on-coming bleakness of winter, keep their eye on the prize? Spring, of course!