JUST NOW, my front yard appears dressed for a royal wedding, because the enchanting Spirea vanhouttei is in bloom. You might know this deciduous shrub as the “Bridal Wreath” spirea, and the pliable, pendulous branches can indeed be fashioned into head-gear. I’m not a wreath-wearer, but I do delight in the plant’s fountain-like form and clusters of white, honey-perfumed flowers that appear in early May. The stems, as you can imagine, are indispensable for springtime bouquets:
For a dinner party last weekend, I draped several lengths of spirea from a clear, crystal vase. Above these, stems of wild, lavender and white phlox, gathered from the woods, and a few stems of purple lilacs were inserted. Unfortunately, the arrangement was too large for the dining table. However it did make a nice display for the mahogany sideboard (click photo to enlarge).
Culturally speaking, vanhouttei takes care of itself. Here, located in full sun between forsythia and barberry shrubs, and planted in average soil that is watered exclusively by Nature, it has achieved a height of 6 feet, and about 8 feet in width. You can, of course, prune immediately after flowering to restrict size. But I think spirea looks far better if permitted room to grow into a huge, arching beauty. It is hardy in zones 4-8.
For a stunning spring show, scented flowers for the house, and self-sustaining culture, you will find the Bridal Wreath spirea can’t be beat. If I didn’t already have three of these enduring shrubs at A Garden for the House, I’d certainly buy them — immediately.
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