Wednesday, March 26, 2014

My favorite plant this week: Xylosma congestum

In a mid-February favorite plant post, I predicted that my favorite choices were going to get more difficult as spring progressed.  That was indeed the problem this week as I flitted from plant to plant, each beckoning for well-deserved attention.  Given that situation, you may be surprised to find that I've chosen a shrub, commonly used as hedge material here, as this week's favorite.  I'm a bit surprised myself.  But every time I look out my home office window or pull into our driveway, I'm impressed by just how good our Xylosma congestum hedge looks right now.

Portion of Xylosma congestum hedge facing the street

Foliage close-up

Another close-up highlighting the brightly-colored new growth



The hedge was sheared a few weeks ago so it's currently sporting glossy new bronze foliage.  This hedge, which extends along 3 sides of our property, is what finally prompted me to hire a mow and blow landscape service a few months after we moved in.  Keeping the Xylosma under control requires shearing 3-4 times per year.  My Sunset Western Garden Book says that, when grown as a hedge, it'll get 8-10 feet (2.5-3 meters) tall and wide but other sources claim that, left unpruned, it can get much, much larger.  It can also be grown as a small tree or espalier, although I haven't seen it used that way in my own area.

This house came with multiple hedges, even hedges within hedges, but this one, if kept pruned, performs - and maintains its appearance - better than all the others.


At the front of the house, the Xylosma hedge runs along the street.  On the south side of the driveway a Ceanothus hedge sits atop an interior stacked wall, separated from the Xylosma by a 3-foot wide moss-covered pathway.



Xylosma is evergreen here and attractive year-round, even right after shearing.  It's said to be susceptible to chlorosis and white flies; however, I've seen no evidence of either.  According to the sources I consulted, it remains evergreen where winter temperatures don't dip below 25F (-4C) and it's root hardy to 10F (-12C).  It manages with low to moderate water.  One site claimed "medium" deer tolerance, although I can't speak to what that means.

Odd as it may be, despite the clamor of a variety of spring-blooming shrubs, bulbs and perennials, Xylosma congestum is my pick as favorite plant this week.  Please visit Loree, our host for the favorite plant meme, at danger garden to see her favorite this week and to find links to other gardeners' favorite plant selections.


18 comments:

  1. That shot looking up at the new growth...beautiful! I can see why it earned it's title.

    Hedges within hedges, I wonder why?

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    1. I wish I knew why there are double hedges. The one shown in the post isn't the only one - by my count, there are 3 of them. One of the duplicates may be the construction of the neighbor on the south side but the others are very clearly part of this property.

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  2. I like your choice; when I first saw it I thought it was Photinia, the hedge I have around some of my property but on investigation it is something else. I also admire your Ceonothus hedge, I've never seen that grown as a hedge before, it looks fabulous.

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    1. The Ceanothus works well as a hedge, christina - all it seems to need is trimming once a year (unlike the Xylosma).

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  3. Kris, it looks beautiful. I like to see the common plants used so well like this. And I like the contrast to the ceanothus blue. Both are exceedingly well-maintained. Thanks for tip about the favorite plant of the week on danger garden.

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  4. The new growth is so vivid and colourful, deserving its title!

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    1. It really is pretty - I've even used it as a filler in flower arrangements.

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  5. That does have beautiful new growth. I'm actually really glad you chose a hedge plant. When I first moved here from Zone 6, I was delighted to see the red tips of new growth on Photinia! Then I discovered what an unmanageable shrub it actually was, unless you have a big crew of brawny lads to trim it for you. Thank goodness that wasn't our current garden, but the rental house.

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    1. If the Xylosma wasn't sheared regularly, I hate to think how big it would get, Alison. There's also a LOT of it - even the gardeners tackle just one section each week.

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  6. A wonderful plant that few people ever pay much attention to. In this neighborhood it's a graceful small tree with weeping curtains of foliage. Your hedge is lovely!

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    1. I've never seen it as a tree but I can believe it makes a pretty one.

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  7. What lovely red foliage! I've never seen it here. It's gorgeous. I love your Ceanothus hedge too. It gets zapped by frost here in bad winters and blackened or killed. Yours looks wonderful.

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    1. Luckily, the Ceanothus is relatively care-free here, Chloris.

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  8. It looks like a cross between a nandina and a photinia, both cold hardy shrubs. It's very pretty! I like the sunset colored foliage. I love that ceanothus, too. The blue varieties don't grow here.

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    1. But the white ones do? That's interesting.

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  9. Replies
    1. It's at its prettiest a few weeks after shearing when the new growth comes in, Amy.

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