What’s sparkles in the shade, is deer resistant, drought tolerant, smothers weeds, propagates easily but isn’t invasive, has hot pink berries in fall and helps control soil erosion?
Let me introduce you to my new BFF (Best Foliage Friend) Blade of Sun snowberry (Symphoricarpos chenaultii ‘Blade of Sun’). You NEED this plant….
Why I Love It
It has a low growing, spreading habit and where the branches touch the ground new roots develop. You can sever this rooted branch from the mother plant to get more plants – it’s a really easy technique called layering except that this snowberry does all the work for you.
If it gets too wide simply snip away with the pruners. No special technique or timing needed for success. Since the main plant will easily grow to 2′ wide – more as it layers – it make sense to set it back from the edge of the border even though it is low growing.
The bright golden yellow foliage is semi-evergreen and holds its color well throughout the year although by mid-summer mine tends to be more chartreuse. It has proven to be drought tolerant in my woodland garden where it is planted in dappled shade and clay soil with no irrigation. A younger plant in more sun may need extra water and in the full sun of hotter climates it may scorch.
I have never noticed the pink flowers and the berry production is not extensive – consider them a bonus because this shrub is really all about the leaves.
I planted a Blade of Sun snowberry on my moderately steep stream bank to hold the soil in place. It’s layering habit meant that this was so successful that last year I took several cuttings and planted them farther downstream to continue the splash of gold: I’m delighted with the look!
Try inter-planting this with one of the larger bugleweed‘s e.g. Catlin’s Giant whose purple-black leaves offer striking contrast while the azure-blue flowering spikes easily penetrate the lax branches of the shrub. Classic blue and yellow – perfect recipe for spring.
Red Carpet barberry (Berberis thunbergii ‘Red Carpet’) also has a prostrate habit and I have used several on the sunnier sections of the stream bank. I love their association with the golden yellow snowberry leaves. If barberries are invasive where you live consider substituting with a dwarf loropetalum e.g. Purple Pixie or dwarf weigela e.g. Midnight Wine.
It may look like a box of crayons but this red-blue-yellow combo is grown up enough for enthusiastic gardeners of all ages.
In another part of the garden I have mixed Blade of Sun snowberry with several hosta and two rusted metal spheres which pick up on the tawny-pink stems of the shrub.
In fact this small golden leaf would work with everything from dissected fern and astilbe leaves to bold Rodgersia. Or just imagine how this splash of yellow would wake up the tired rhododendron border in summer and fall !
What would YOU plant it with? Do leave a comment below or on Facebook – or tell me when I see you at the nurseries! Happy gardening.
Available from Forest Farms
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