Diminutive Ninebarks

Today was another chilly, sunny day with blue skies.  After some brief office work, I headed up to the Alliant Energy Center Exhibition Hall in Madison with Big John and Mark S.  We hauled up all of our booth materials for the Wisconsin Public Television Garden Expo (www.wigardenexpo.com/) and set up our booth in preparation for the start of the event tomorrow at 2 pm.  Check out their website for not only a vendor listing but information on all the informative topics and seminars that will be offered.  I’ve seen this event mature in to an amazingly well-attended (and much anticipated) event for those of us starved for some color and re-connection to our gardens.  Upon return, I had a couple of meetings.  Larry H. worked on lights from the Holiday Light Show (HLS) while Alan headed out to haul in temporary pine trees from that same event.  Dr. Gredler has some painting to do while Dave, Jim and Vern worked on carpentry projects.  Gene sealed up some new plant racks and Chuck went on a recycling run.  We also saw Dick H., Bill O. and many others today.
I like ninebarks (Physocarpus opulifolius).  This durable shrub is adaptable to a wide range of soils, will tolerate part shade (prefers full sun) and is certainly hardy for us.  This North American native has green foliage although the best landscape selections have colorful foliage in shades of chartreuse, gold, maroon, red and orange.  There are some great older varieties that will get some size to them and reach heights of 8′-10′ in height with broad, arching branches.  Keep in mind that the arching form of ninebarks is quite ornamental and should be accommodated when spacing them in the landscape.  They don’t lend themselves very well to shearing although established specimens can literally be cut back to the ground every year and will re-sprout growth to 4′-5′ or so in one season.  Heavy powdery mildew issues have plagued some of our specimens during cooler years but our severe cutback and collection of stems every fall has helped minimize “re-infection”.  The larger specimens like ‘Dart’s Gold’, ‘Nugget’, Diablo (‘Monlo’), Coppertina (‘Mindia’), etc. need plenty of “real estate” but have some significant impact.  There are more compact versions that have come out that carry the same foliage tones in a more “reduced scale.”  Look for Lemon Candy (‘Podaras 3’) for gold, Amber Jubilee (‘Jefam’) for orange and Summer Wine (‘Seward’) for the maroon.  These selections are more in the 4′-6′ range.  I should mention that the “orange” ninebarks do transition to a maroon by mid summer but still look sharp.  However, there are now two even smaller maroon leaf varieties.  Little Devil (‘Donna May’) has been out for a couple of years and is featured above and in most of the photos below.  This variety is listed as attaining a height of 3′ or so although I’ve seen it a bit larger.  The smaller form, foliage and appearance is sharp though. Tiny Wine (‘SMPOTW’) is another nice small one (featured in the bottom two photos) with near identical features to Little Devil.  I like their look and the smaller stature should increase their use in foundation planting schemes, mass plantings and use as a medium sized specimen offering some nice dark coloration.
Physocarpus opulifolus  Little Devil (‘Donna May’)
Physocarpus opulifolus  Little Devil (‘Donna May’)
 Physocarpus opulifolus  Little Devil (‘Donna May’)
 Physocarpus opulifolus  Little Devil (‘Donna May’)
Physocarpus opulifolus  Little Devil (‘Donna May’)
 Physocarpus opulifolus  Little Devil (‘Donna May’)
 Physocarpus opulifolus  Little Devil (‘Donna May’)
 Physocarpus opulifolus  Little Devil (‘Donna May’)
 Physocarpus opulifolius  Tiny Wine (‘SMPOTW’) – above and below

 

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