Gardening where the sidewalk ends

Pink pieris April 7, 2010

Filed under: neighborhood gardens,shrubs — greenwalks @ 2:50 pm
Tags: , , ,

I saw this Pieris japonica cascading over a retaining wall behind a public park on a sunny early-spring day. Pieris is ubiquitous in Seattle gardens and as such is sometimes considered rather dull and uninspiring. But all you need to do is walk by when it’s in bloom to know why it is so thoroughly planted here – the honey scent is almost overwhelming in its sweetness, and its common name, Lily-of-the-valley shrub, is well-chosen. I like these pink-blushed delicate blossoms more than the plain white ones.

Pink pieris

The shrub, a native of Asia, is hardy in zones 6-8 and is tough as nails. You can prune the heck out of it and it always springs back (I had one in a previous garden, in semi-shade). It can grow to 12 ft. tall if you don’t keep after it, unless you get a dwarf variety such as ‘Debutante’ (3 ft. high/wide) or ‘Little Heath’ (2 ft. each way). Or just pick a big open spot and let it grow freely. I think that’s the way I’m going to try to treat plants as much as possible from now on.

Plus, it’s deer-resistant, for anyone who cares about that! Plants go in and out of fashion, but the proven performers that work hard in our gardens will probably always be around.


12 Responses to “Pink pieris”

  1. Lovely, and deer-proof is good, but the one I am looking for has new growth that is a blushing pinkish apricot. Do you happen to know what that one is called?

  2. Georgia Says:

    I remember seeing this plant in Berkeley – beautiful and very fragrant.

  3. Jordan Says:

    That Pieris is very nice. There is another called ‘Valley Valentine’ that has flowers so dark pink they are almost red. Regarding your question on Callistemon, I have 5 species that made it unscathed through the past 2 winters. C pallidus, C rigidus, C sieberi, C subulatus & C viridiflorus. I have C subulatus in a 1-gallon can that you may have. It gets rather large. I’ve kept mine in a pot on my patio for the past 10 years, which has kept it to about 4 feet. They are very easy to grow from seed.

  4. Jen Says:

    I have something that looks similary but isn’t pink – I think it’s called “Mountain Laurel” This one is just beautiful. Mine seems to be prone to fungus – but otherwise very easy to grow. And yes, I’m one of those who cares about the deer resistance. That’s a relief!

  5. Bonnie Story Says:

    Wow, I have a post about Pieris set to go for tomorrow! I just love this stuff, I got several at a big nursery sale last fall and they are all doing great. One called “Scarlett O’Hara” is featured on my blog tomorrow – she’s got super-cute pink blossoms. I am a huge fan of this plant, it’s an undemanding problem-solver for me! Have a great day, Bonnie

  6. linda Says:

    I have one( pink) that I always admire this time of year on my neighborhood walk… I fact I just about to set off…

  7. Grace Says:

    Hi Karen~~ If I may be honest, there is something about the Pieris that annoys me. However, your photo could convert me. Those thousands of pale pink lanterns with the tiniest of upturned edges and the pink petioles and calyxes… just lovely. I think Pieris is one of those plants that needs to be studied up close. I bet the bees agree.

  8. Catherine Says:

    I really like seeing the Pieris blooming now. I pass by a really large one that is probably the nicest ones I’ve ever seen. Probably because it has lots of space to grow. I planted ‘Little Heath’ in a container last Fall. I don’t think I’ve seen a pink one before, it’s really pretty.

  9. Jane Says:

    Thanks for this nice overview of the shrub. I have tended to dismiss it, but you’ve given me a new appreciation, especially for the pretty pink varieties.
    Our next door neighbors have a large white pieris that is in full bloom right now, and it’s breathtaking. I read your comment about the mature size with a little concern: our neighbor’s is planted next to the house and is already halfway covering the window. They don’t seem to mind, but now I’ll be able to tell them, if asked, that they can prune with abandon!

  10. easygardener Says:

    The flowers are very attractive but my soil isn’t suitable so they tend to look a bit sick. I suppose it is good to have some things we cannot grow just to keep us in touch with reality.

  11. Racquel Says:

    What a gorgeous cascade of pink blooms. Very spring like. 🙂

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