Hindsight is 20-20.

Yes, it’s a sadly trite saying, only because it’s true.

This summer, I had to replace a 15-year-old Japonica spirea that had bitten the dust. I’ve broken a Dutch fork digging up the iron roots of a spirea, so I expected a battle. Instead it came up easily in chunks that had been hollowed out by ants. I discovered this when I realized ants were swarming up my sneakers and pants legs.

After dealing with the ants, I purchased a new spirea and planted it, then spent several weeks alternately watering and cursing as it lingered in a half state between transplant stupor and death. Finally, it’s taken hold and is settling in nicely.


Here comes the hindsight. I wished I’d waited before choosing a replacement shrub, especially after reading about a new spirea introduced last year from Bailey Nurseries.

“Pink Sparkler” Birchleaf Spirea blooms in early summer, producing 2-inch pink flowers on dark green foliage in full or partial sun.

In autumn, the plant produces smaller pink flowers that introduce a pop of pink in the midst of autumn reds, yellows, browns and oranges so prevalent in the season. The foliage itself turns burgundy red. It’s a mounding spirea that reaches 24 to 36 inches tall and is hardy to Zone 3. “Pink Sparkler” does well in gardens, as well as containers. It requires little maintenance once established and requires very little pruning to maintain its shape.

‘Straight Talk’ Ligustrum

Viburnum “Opening Day” was introduced this spring. With its perfectly round, baseball-sized (3 to 4 inches in diameter) blooms that appear in April, it’s obvious why it was named “Opening Day.” This is a compact viburnum that grows 2 feet or taller. Flowers open tinged with green and mature to pure white. Deeply corrugated foliage is dark green, but in fall, it turns shades of cabernet wine. It is hardy to Zone 5, requiring full to partial sun. It is described as both heat and rain tolerant. Prune it or remove spent flowers just after spring blooms are finished.

Another new introduction is Ligustrum “Straight Talk.” If you have a space-challenged landscape, this privet shrub is for you. It’s vertical – only 2 feet wide – and tightly upright. It is cold hardy to Zone 4 and drought tolerant, too. It also is described as easy to grow in a range of soil types and tolerant of urban conditions. It produces white flowers, followed by black fruit. This one requires full sun and grows 24 to 36 inches tall.

The Japanese Snowbell Marleys Pink “Weeping” is a looker. The weeping snowbell flowers prolifically, presenting downward-facing pink blooms that smell of cotton candy and lemon. Hardy to Zone 5, it needs a dry to normal location in full sun. With a mounding habit, the shrub grows 24 to 36 inches tall. Plant it where everyone in the neighborhood can see it!

Source: National Garden Bureau