Now that the Korean spice viburnum has passed out of bloom in the front yard, the beautiful doublefile viburnum is coming into its full glory, in the backyard. What it lacks in scent, it more than makes up for in drama.
I received this shrub, now about six feet in height, about fifteen years ago as a gift. I made the classic error–one I’ve repeated many times since–of planting it way too close to the house. Either I didn’t read the tag, or I didn’t believe that the doublefile reaches a height of 15 to 18 feet. I am not sure what variety this one is; at the time, as a beginning gardener, remembering “viburnum” was challenge enough.
Just a few years ago, when painting the house, I was forced to prune it harshly to create space between it and the house. It’s recovered beautifully, and sort of wraps around the corner of the house without touching it. Though I’ve moved many other shrubs to correct similar planting errors, I never did move this one. I continue to like it right where it is, crazy pruning and all.
When it’s at its best, it has a distinct Asian flair, because of its unusual shape. It has a dramatic, lateral branching habit that creates a cool, shady spot that my lab calls his own. And, nothing finds enough light (or water) underneath it to grow, making it a perfect garden spot for dogs. In the fall, it will turn a beautiful orange in color, and it will form dark-colored berries, ending the year with even more drama.
I have two other viburnums that I suspect are other varieties of doublefiles. With so many varieties of viburnum to choose from (150 or more, I believe), I may never figure it out. I lost the tags for each long ago.
I’d love to add a native to the mix, and I’m thinking of the northern raisin viburnum. With white flowers in the spring and dark blue berries in the fall, the northern raisin will max out at six feet–perfect for a tiny city yard that’s sure to run out of space some day soon.