Flowers · Perennials

Let’s talk Viburnum

Years ago at Garden Expo I heard it was the decade of the hydrangea.  I was overjoyed because I love hydrangeas of every kind, both in my gardens and my clients’ gardens, as well as in the bouquets I create every week for my flower share. I couldn’t imagine I would ever meet its equal, but then along came viburnum.

What is magical about the viburnum is that it blooms earlier than my earliest-blooming Annabelle hydrangeas.  Like snowdrops or bleeding heart, viburnum is invaluable in a Wisconsin garden because when the snow melts, all you have is mud.  So the more early bloomers, the better.

But I am as hard to teach as my nine-year-old son. (I know, isn’t it lovely to see your favorite [not!] traits shine brightly in your offspring, glaring at you, humbling you?) So when I was buying flowers from my favorite sales contact at my wholesaler to create my typical MGG bouquet and she said, “No, I’m sorry; we don’t have any hydrangeas for sale, but we have viburnum,” I took it.  And I fell madly in love with it, learning that maybe I don’t know everything.  In fact, the more I pause and let others in, the more I truly learn.  Tricky for a know-it-all to master!

I bought the viburnum from my wholesaler again and again that winter–as much as I could when it was available.  So imagine my thrill when I saw it for sale early that spring at my local garden center!  I scooped it up and planted it.  I love it in my garden, as it blooms just as the snow melts and well before my precious Annabelle hydrangeas.  I try to resist cutting all of it for my weekly flower-share bouquets because I can see the stunning shrubs from both my kitchen window and my family room window.  Then again, the more I cut for my clients’ bouquets, the better it grows, making me think there is something to the idea that the energy you put out is the energy you get back, which my wise brother taught me.

As I get ready to do an early-June wedding, I wish I had planted more viburnum–way more viburnum.  And as I plan and design a future client’s garden for spring 2017, with all of their desires and wants percolating in my creative process and knowing the one plant they are currently gaga over is the hydrangea, I think, If they like hydrangeas, boy are they going to love viburnum!  I hope they do.

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