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SPRING IN THE GARDEN: Weepers add elegance and colour to any garden

Ellen Presley

Ellen Presley

Special to the Record

Weepers, creepers, where did you get those peepers.

Even if you don’t have much room in your garden, you can give it an amazing focal point with a weeper: a shrub or tree that has cascading branches.

A favourite of the English country garden is the Labrunum x waterier vossi (golden chain tree; 15-20 feet). It is truly magnificent when it blooms in May and June. Spectacular golden yellow clusters of blossoms up to 24” in length cascade from multiple branches forming a lovely, densely packed canopy of flowers. An enticingly subtle scent wafts in the air, winning this plant the Fragrant Plant of Meritaward. This fast-growing member of the pea family has shallow non-invasive roots and makes it easy to grow in a small space or container.

After it blooms, it forms attractive bean-like pods, which are poisonous to us and should be removed to increase flowering the following year. The blooms will attract bees, hummingbirds and butterflies. The Labrunum prefers full sun or part shade and organically rich soil that is slightly moist but well drained. Throughout the summer it has attractive olive green leaves and as it matures the bark develops this interesting rough brown texture.

Most weepers are more about the foliage than the flowers. The Cercidiphyllum japonicum Pendulum (weeping Katsura) forms elegant graceful branches of cascading bluish-green heart-shaped leaves. It has interesting bark as it matures and excellent fall color when its leaves turn yellow-orange. This low maintenance tree prefers full sun, grows 15 to 25 feet and prefers moist but well drained soil.

The Fagus sylvatica purpurea pendula (purple fountain beech) will give you a majestic display of elliptic wavy edged purple leaves. This is a small weeping form of beech that only grows to 10 feet, making it ideal for small spaces. The branches are smothered with red foliage in spring, turning deep purple in summer and then bronze/gold in the autumn. It prefers full sun but will tolerate light shade but insists on good drainage.

An even smaller weeper is the Acer palmatum dissectum – Waterfall – which grows only 8-10 feet. This lovely graceful maple has beautiful cascading branches with finely cut green leaves. It is great for a woodland or Japanese garden accent or in containers. The leaves turn golden with streaks of orange and red in fall. This easy care weeping maple prefers full to part sun and consistently moist but well-drained soil. With little effort, you can add wonderful texture and year-round interest to your garden.

A much desired tree is the Styrax japonicus Fragrant Fountain (snowbell). This weeping variety usually only gets six feet tall and has elegant fragrant white bell-shaped flowers that look-like cascading droplets hanging from its branches. It prefers part shade, shelter from strong winds and a moist but well-drained soil. An absolutely exquisite tree and a must have for any garden.

While we are waiting for summer, it’s time to add some wonderful specimen trees to your garden. Weepers add a splash of elegance and movement to your garden with very little maintenance - giving you time to enjoy your summer and your favourite beverage. Happy gardening.

Ellen Presley is the owner of Anderton Nursery, at 2012 Anderton Rd., Comox. Visit