Viburnum carlesii ‘Aurora’

This is an excellent shrub for the small garden, for it grows slowly into a com-pact, round shape not much more than 4 feet (1.2 m) high. It is deciduous, hardy and happy in any soil, with two periods of interest in the course of the year, a long one in spring, and a shorter one in autumn, when the leaves turn red.

Its large, rounded clusters of tiny flowers open in late spring, but before that there are several weeks when the buds are a deep rosy pink of porcelain beauty. When they open, the flowers are first pale pink, then white, with a strong, sweet scent. The downy leaves are a broad oval shape, and are frankly rather dull. Aurora’ makes a good specimen shrub in a small lawn, but you would need a later-flowering specimen .shrub in another bed, perhaps a Philadelphus, to catch the eye in summer. It also looks well in a sunny border with something blue, like forget-me-nots, at its feet.

Viburnum carlesii is a parent of a fine hybrid, V. x burkwoodii, which many prefer. It is taller, more open in structure, and evergreen, with bright green, glossy leaves which turn scarlet in autumn; it does well in towns. But V. x burkwoodii is brownish in the bud, and the rosy buds of ‘Aurora’ mean a lot to me. The answer is to find space for both.

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