One of those perfect matches noticed as July simmers along includes the foliage of the native nine bark hybrid, Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Summer Wine’. Blooming in the spring, this shrub is more widely planted for its finger edged foliage than for the flowers. There are several hues available of nine bark, and I would be interested in trying more, especially the gold tones.
Sited next to Summer Wine in the dark realm of the Black Garden is the native switchgrass cultivar, Panicum virgatum ‘Heavy Metal’, now in bloom. The flowers are insignificant but add interest to the tips of the steel blue leaves. In fall the seedheads turn burgundy while the foliage is a golden yellow before turning to blonde as the cold covers the land. They will stand erect throughout the winter, catching frost and snow for winter beauty.
The dark burgundy and the pale blue go very well together. The last lily to bloom here, Lilium ‘Black Beauty’ stands over the happy couple, providing food for hummers and other pollinators and a shot of color to the scene.
About the plants:
(Above: April 21, 2012 with Allium moly ‘Jeannine’.)
Physocarpus opulifolius ‘SUMMER WINE®’ combines the fine texture and compact branching of Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Nana’ with the dark foliage of Physocarpus ‘Diabolo’.
Common name: Nine bark
Hardiness: USDA Zone 3-8
Bloom Time: May-June (April here in Zone 7a Southeast Tennessee)
Bloom Color: Pinkish-white
Foliage color: Deeply cut, dark crimson-red leaves
Size: 5-6 feet tall, 4-5 feet wide, excellent branching
Exposure: Full sun for best color, part shade farther south
Soil: Adaptable to difficult situations. Withstands acidic and alkaline soils.
Pruning: Summer Wine forms its flower buds in later summer and then flowers in early June. The best time to prune is after it blooms, from mid-June to mid-August. Cease pruning in mid-august to allow time for the flower buds to form prior to winter. Do not be afraid to prune or shear your plant hard if you wish to maintain a shorter size.
Other: Native to North America.
Panicum virgatum ‘Heavy Metal’ is shorter and more upright than the species. The foliage is blueish with a waxy coating, turning yellow in fall. Panicum virgatum is native to open prairies and woodlands from Canada to the Southeastern US.
Common name: Switch grass
Hardiness : USDA Zones 3-9
Size: 3-4 feet tall, 2-3 feet wide at the base
Bloom time: July-August
Exposure: Full to partial sun
Moisture: Drought tolerant but adaptable
Pruning: Cut back to six inches before new growth begins in late winter/early spring
In April, when Summer Wine is blooming, there is quite a bit of flower power in the Fairegarden that is much more exciting than the Physocarpus pink pom poms and Heavy Metal is barely a foot tall, center right in the above photo. But this match comes into its own as summer slides into home base and continues to shine until winter descends. It is a fine example of foliage rules!
This is the very first perfect match post. I hope to do more, at least one per month to help illustrate a garden with year around interest. Stay tuned for more! Links will be added as they are written, if we can remember to do so.
More Perfect Matches: