Viburnums - great for spring and early summer


Many late-spring and early summer flowering viburnums have scented pink and white flowers held on spreading branches and these often perform with the main flush of tulips, either in April or May. Their strawberry and vanilla ice cream colouring provides a perfect backdrop for a sorbet of cool-mauve, pink, purple-pink, and deep-maroon later tulips. These might include the mauve-marbled white ‘Shirley’, the beetroot ‘Negrita’ and the elegant pink 'Mistress'.

Viburnum × burkwoodii  are easily grown medium-sized shrubs that produce rounded heads of white flowers from apple-blossom pink buds, so are very soft on the eye. The shiny evergreen leaves, which may overwinter or open as the flowers appear, are healthy and the branching shape can be slow to develop. ‘Mohawk’, a more compact and highly fragrant American form, bears rounded heads of red buds that open to white.  

The similar Viburnum × juddii is an even smaller shrub that produces sweetly fragrant all-white flowers in April and May. It has a strong constitution, forming a rounded profile with a domed head of fresh flower. It shines in shade too. Viburnum × carlcephalum flowers later, usually in May, producing larger round heads of white flowers softened by pale pink buds. It’s extremely fragrant, with a heady lily-like scent. Many viburnums set berries, but they are best removed to prevent unwanted seedlings. If suckers appear, remove those as well because they are likely to be from the inferior root stock.  All viburnums thrive on clay soil, as many shrubs do.