Archive for June 11th, 2009


Lilacs aren’t the only shrubs that have been blooming here. The Bush Honeysuckle (Lonicera tatarica) (possibly ‘Arnold Red’) put on a magnificent display. It was covered in colourful flowers from top to bottom. It also produces a crop of berries in the summer. This non-native shrub is noted for its drought-tolerance and aphid resistance. On the negative side, the Tartarian Honeysuckle has been problematic as an invasive species. The berries may be carried to woodlots and natural areas by birds or small animals, and the shrubs can out-perform native species, becoming the dominant shrub.

Another attractive shrub is the Dappled Willow (Salix integra). In the spring, it produces pink shoots, which open to reveal narrow leaves dappled in cream and green and pale pink.


But neither lilacs nor willows nor honeysuckles rate as my favorite shrub, no. That would be the Bridal Wreath Spirea (Spirea x vanhouttei). Although it is an attractive shrub, decked out in arching stems of clustered white flowers, it’s appeal for me has nothing to do with its appearance. Rather, it’s nostalgia. One of my earliest memories is of a pair of large Bridal Wreath bushes that were located on each side of the front porch of my first home. When the shrubs were in bloom, they were magnets for bees. There were many small bees, probably honey bees, and large, black and yellow bees that we called Queen Bees, but which of course would have been bumblebees. We kids, pre-schoolers, collected glass jars from our moms, and had fun catching bees. You held the jar in one hand and the lid in the other and scooped the bee into the jar as it buzzed around the flowers.

Preschoolers? With glass jars? Catching bees? What were our mothers thinking?!! I have no memory of ever being stung, and I remember those spirea very fondly half a century later.


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