Underused plants is a totally subjective topic based only on one person’s experience. So bear in mind that I’m the non-plant obsessed designer of the group!
I have visited many, many gardens and I’ve only seen this plant in three or four private gardens even though almost every arboretum and botanical garden I have visited has one. So, in my experience, Heptacodium miconioides or Seven Son Flower is an underused large shrub/small tree if there ever was one.
Hardy in USDA Zones 5-9, Seven Son Flower is a truely 4 season plant that tops out at 15-20 feet and about 10 feet wide. It’s not terribly fussy and will grow in full sun or part shade. It does require pruning at a young age to create a graceful tree form. The small tree in the image above has been pruned, the one in image below has not.
Now here’s the kicker…it may only survive due to its re-introduction into horticulture in the 1980s. The Arnold Arboretum has had one since 1905, but it was rediscovered about 30 years ago and is very rare in its native habitat in China.
Why should you have it in your garden? It rivals Stewartia pseudocamellia with its bark’s exfoliating beauty.
Its vase shape makes it valuable for designing a layered planting scheme and an easy companion to woodland shade lovers.
The bold and coarse foliage is very useful when creating textural interest.
Personally, I really like the buds.
When most gardens are beginning to wane, Seven Son Flower puts on a show. It has spectacular late season, fragrant blossoms when little else is in bloom. They start out white and as the fall progresses the calyces turn rosey as if it has a second, different color bloom cycle. They are attractive to butterflies. Its fall foliage is golden–although pretty unremarkable.
What’s not to like?
Here are the links to the rest of the roundtable posts…enjoy–it’s a plant-a-holic’s delight!
Andrew Keys : Garden Smackdown : Boston, MA »
Carolyn Gail Choi : Sweet Home and Garden Chicago : Chicago, IL »
Christina Salwitz : Personal Garden Coach : Renton, WA »
Debbie Roberts : A Garden of Possibilities : Stamford, CT
Douglas Owens-Pike : Energyscapes : Minneapolis, MN »
Genevieve Schmidt : North Coast Gardening : Arcata, CA »
Jocelyn Chilvers : The Art Garden : Denver, CO »
Lesley Hegarty & Robert Webber : Hegarty Webber Partnership : Bristol, UK »
Pam Penick : Digging : Austin, TX »
Rebecca Sweet : Gossip In the Garden : Los Altos, CA »
Scott Hokunson : Blue Heron Landscapes : Granby, CT »
Tara Dillard : Vanishing Threshold: Garden Life Home : Atlanta, GA »