Abelias & Spireas
by Cass Turnbull
I'm looking for a new diet to help me shed those unwanted pounds.
Unfortunately no matter what I hear or read, it keeps coming
back to the same advice --- eat less (especially less of my
favorite foods) and exercise more. I'm looking for that other
diet, you know, the one where you lose weight while you sleep.
Being in the gardening business, I am familiar with the laws of
Nature and should know better.
People often ask me to explain the secrets of pruning. But
when I tell them, I find that they are unwilling to accept the
truth. They want the other secrets of pruning, which is to
say, they want to know the right time of year or the kind of
cut that will reduce their shrub and keep it small and tidy.
By in large, the object of pruning is to make plants better,
not shorter. When people prune to make things smaller,
they are dismayed to find that the plant speeds up its growth
rate to regain its original height.
The category of plants that is least difficult to reduce
(given sufficient room for them to reach their adult size),
I call Mounding Habit plants. They are relatively malleable
due to either their closely spaced leaves and thin branches or
because of the herbaceousness of their stems. But I must
confess, the more years I prune, the less I try to keep plants
small. Even when done properly, it seems like too much
work compared to correct placement. Two of these Mounding
Habit shrubs are abelia and spirea.
Spireas come in several sizes and are mostly prized for their
flowers. I especially like the 'Bridal Wreath' spirea.
Andrea, mentor at the Seattle Park's Department, once told me,
"if you don't know what it is, it's probably a spirea or a viburnum."
Abelia is a nice plant for people in climates warm enough to have
it. I like it because it has nice pink flowers in a time
other than spring. After the summer bloom the pinkish-orange
calyxes persist on through late fall. In most winters here,