Garden Treasures with a Multitude of Jewels
abelias are a delightful group of plants that continue to gain popularity in
contemporary landscape. One of the
desirable characteristics of these plants is their size.
All too often plants are sited too close to one another or a structure in
the garden . The placement appears
appropriate at the time, but soon proves too close for comfort and leads to
unnecessary pruning and increased chance for pest problems to occur. Abelias, due to their naturally compact habit, help gardeners
avoid this problem since they grow from 3 6 tall and as wide in the
landscape. Although this is not
necessarily diminutive, their quick rate of growth generally means people are
planting specimens that are about half mature size and therefore, provide
sufficient room for growth. In
addition, abelias respond well to periodic severe cut-back.
This enhances the plant density, flower production and serves to reduce
the size. Effectively, abelias can
be maintained at 3 4 with biennial cut back to the ground.
offer many features that provide multiple seasons of unique interest.
The foliage is one such feature. The
small leaves are extremely glossy, so much so that the common name of Abelia
x grandiflora is the glossy abelia.
The foliage glistens like diamonds in the summer sun.
The variegated cultivars add their own splash of color to the summer
garden. The bold multicolored
foliage is just the remedy for that shady corner that needs a little help.
With the approach of autumn, the leaves turn various shades of bronze,
red and purple resulting in a colorful display that remains effective throughout
the fall, into the winter and often until spring.
The fall coloration is even more impressive when superimposed on the
variegated foliage. Abelia retains
its foliage throughout the winter, although in more northerly regions may drop
one half or more of its leaves. The
small leaves and wispy stems create a fine textured plant that adds a soft,
graceful texture to any garden.
flowers are quite possibly the most attractive feature of the plant.
The approximately 1 flowers are very attractive because of their
visual appearance and sweet fragrance. They
are produced in great abundance from late May or June into the fall.
The numerous flowers throughout the summer provide the garden visitor a
sweet fragrance rivaled by few other plants at that time of year.
Flowering is reduced with the onset of cool temperatures but is still
significant up to the first hard frost. The
white to pinkish colored flowers, depending on species and cultivar, are produce
on new growth so that they are always obvious on the ends of the branches.
This shrub rivals herbaceous plants for summer display.
abelias are as easy to care for as they are beautiful in the landscape.
There are no significant disease or insect problems that plague these
plants. Actually, the plants
flowers provide a virtual smorgasbord for many insect pollinators.
Students in the entomology classes spend hours observing the myriad of
insects that visit the flowers on a warm summers day.
Abelias are adaptable as to their location in the garden. Plants will grow well in full sun and reward the gardener
with dense, heavily flowered plants. They
also will grow in shade with a slight reduction in density and flower
production. It is best to avoid
both extremely dry and wet locations but the plants are, on no way, picky as to
their ease of growth. Late winter
or early spring pruning before the onset of vegetative growth will assure a neat
appearance and remove any dead tips from the winter.
plants are amazingly useful in garden design.
They may serve a very utilitarian role
as a hedge or to accent the curve of a path.
They can be used as a specimen shrub mixed in a summer perennial border.
The only drawback to this use is that the perennials may become jealous
and refuse to perform on the same stage. Abelias
are also compact shrubs very useful in foundation plantings, masses and shrub
borders. The abelias are
truly a plant for all seasons.
'Edward Goucher' Edward Goucher Abelia.
This hybrid between A. x grandiflora and A. schumannii
has the deepest color of the abelia cultivars.
The flowers are lavender to purplish pink, distinct from the other
cultivars, and begin in June and continue to frost.
The plant is intermediate between the parents in growth habit maturing
5 tall by 5 wide. This
cultivar often dies back to the ground in cold winters but rebounds with great
vigor in the spring producing abundant flowers on the new growth. /
m! 1 gal
'Compacta' Variegated Glossy Abelia.
Although abelias are anything but giants, this cultivars has a more
diminutive habit, 3 tall by 4 wide, for those tighter spots in the garden.
It retains the glossy, semi evergreen foliage and dense habit of the
species. It produced fragrant white, tinged pink, flowers throughout
the summer until frost. with pinkish flowers. /
x grandiflora 'Conti Confetti Variegated Glossy Abelia. This cultivar originated as a branch sport of A.
x grandiflora Sherwoodii. It
has variegated foliage with creamy white margins occasionally tinged pink. The
white portions of the foliage turn rose red in the winter providing considerable
color to the often dreary winter landscape.
The fragrant white flowers are abundant in the summer and fall garden.
Plants grow 2 tall and 3wide. /
'Little Richard' Glossy Abelia. This
cultivar is named for the compact habit, 2-3 tall by 2-3 wide, and dense
growth. The lustrous foliage
emerges red then fades to a shinny dark green.
The leaves are retained through winter better than other cultivars. The
dark foliage is the perfect foil for the white fragrant flowers.
1 gal 1
x grandiflora 'Sunrise' Glossy Abelia.
Another variegated abelia but with crisp golden yellow margins and a
green center in the leaf. This
cultivar is a more vigorous grower than ConfettiTM maturing at 3
or slightly more in height. The
white summer and fall flowers add to the display of this striking plant. The royalties generated by sales of this cultivar go to
support the J.C. Raulston Arboretum at North Carolina State University. /
1 gal 1
Fragrant Abelia. This species
was discovered in Latvia, so it shows excellent hardiness but is completely
deciduous. What it may lack in
winter foliage display, it more than makes up for in flower fragrance.
The deep pink buds open to rich pink flowers that are abundantly produced
in late spring and early summer. The
glossy summer foliage changes to an orange red fall color that provides a
colorful display in the autumn. /
Abelia. The Latin name gives
this plant away. It is a dazzling
new selection that has significantly larger flowers which look like small
foxglove flowers. The lavender pink flowers are also distinct from other abelias. Combine
this with an extended flowering season and attractive foliage, and you have an
outstanding plant for the summer garden. /