Saturday, July 14, 2007

Golden Bluebeard (Caryopteris x clandonensis 'Worcester Gold')

Golden Bluebeard
Caryopteris x clandonensis 'Worcester Gold'
(kar-ee-OP-ter-iss) (klan-don-EN-sis)
Lamiaceae (lay-mee-AY-see-ay)
Synonyms: Blue Mist, Blue Mist Spirea

I am not sure if you are suppose the cultivar name like they do in Massachusetts, ‘Woo-Ster’. This plant failed a couple of times for me until I found out it needs good drainage to survive. Since I have figured that out it has been happy in my garden. It needs sun to have the best foliage color, which is more chartreuse then golden. It often fades to a lime green later in the season and in more shady areas. Which I know to a lot of people who use gold foliage plants is an undesirable trait. Personally I don’t mind if a plant does that but I guess it could screw up someone’s design if it changed color. The flowers are a great hue of blue and are long lasting. They attract bees and butterflies in good numbers. The foliage is also aromatic and it has shown good deer resistance here in Connecticut and Westchester County in New York.

Another thing I have learned about this plant is not to cut it back too early in the spring. What appears to be dead will sometimes spring to life. You can treat it as cut back shrub or a semi-woody perennial if you want but I prefer just enough trimming to keep it neat. In USDA Zones 5 and 6 it can sometimes be burned down to the ground in a bad winter. Don’t despair, it is root hardy and should send up new shoots. Claude Palmer of St. John’s Nurseries discovered this cultivar in Worcester, England.

I am a big fan of the ‘regular’ Blue Mist shrub. It has grayish-green foliage and the same flower color. Some of the newer cultivars even have darker blue flowers. I usually sneak a couple of them into designs because they give color in the late summer.

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