Tuesday, October 6, 2015

A "dream catcher" worthy of the name

You know the old saying. In its first year, a plant sleeps. In the second year, it creeps. Come the third year, it leaps!

A "dream catcher" worthy of the name


You know the old saying. In its first year, a plant sleeps. In the second year, it creeps. Come the third year, it leaps!

This, as you may have learned, is so true. Take the Kolkwitzia amabilis, otherwise known -  perhaps more aptly - as beauty bush. What an outstanding plant! I have two of the 'Dream Catcher' variety. They were little squirts when I acquired them. Nothing much happened for two years. Since then, whew! They've taken off.

Now they stand side by side along a fence, about five feet tall, their wand-like branches hanging over and, depending on the time of day, reaching out to people passing by. Yesterday, a young mother and her toddler stopped to admire them. Mom wanted to know what they were. Of course, she hadn't ever heard the name.

I wasn't surprised. What's surprising is that this shrub, native to central China, apparently enjoyed great popularity in this country after World War I and then dropped out of sight. It's now - supposedly - undergoing a bit of a revival, though I've never seen it at a garden center. (It's available online, however.)

'Dream Catcher' is pretty new and deserves to be way more popular than it is. Pink blossoms line the branches. The pointy foliage is chartreuse with a rust-colored edge. Older varieties were characterized by a burst of blooms in spring, then nothing. Not so with 'Dream Catcher.' Its leaves turn red-orange in the fall.

I've come to appreciate this plant's flowing lines and considerable bulk, two qualities that are difficult for shrubs - and people - to pull off.

Inquirer Staff Writer
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About this blog
Ginny Smith, a Philadelphia native, joined the Inquirer at 1985. After stints as both reporter and editor in the city and suburbs, she’s been happily writing – and learning - about gardening full time since 2006. She’s won two silver medals of achievement from the national Garden Writers Association and in 2011, Bartram’s Garden honored her with its Green Exemplar award for her stories about “the region’s deeply rooted horticultural history, cultural attractions and bountiful gardens.” She plays in her own – mostly - bountiful garden in East Falls. Reach Virginia A. at vsmith@phillynews.com .

Virginia A. Smith Inquirer Staff Writer
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