Goats’ Beards and Frilly Flowers
Aside from ‘Sally Holmes’ (already written about here), there are at this moment two flowering plants in the back garden that are likely to grab your attention.
The first is Goat’s Beard (Aruncus dioicus). At this time of year, Goat’s Beard is quite showy with feathery clusters of white flowers.
Goat’s Beard, a herbaceous perennial, is a big plant. My neighbor has one that is about four feet tall and wide. Mine is not that big, but it is only two years old. Shady areas with rich, moist soil suit it best.
It’s native to parts of the US and Canada, but also to other locations in the Northern Hemisphere. Goat’s Beard is also a host plant for the Dusky Azure butterfly.
What you see above is one plant, but with part of it leaning way over to the side.
A. dioicus’s other common name is Bride’s Feathers. It seems odd to me that the same plant should evoke both goats and brides, but the mind does strange things.
We also have some Dwarf Goat’s Beard in the back garden. It is an entirely different species, Aruncus aethusifolius, a native of Korea. Not much more than a foot high and with ferny foliage, it can be massed as a low groundcover for shade.
Having both a big Goat’s Beard and a Dwarf Goat’s Beard reminds me of a story I used to read to my kids, The Three Billy Goats Gruff. To complete the reference I might need some garden statuary depicting a middle-sized goat and a troll. Perhaps a bridge for the troll to hide under.
The second plant is a big old shrub that we inherited from the last owners of the house. It’s a Deutzia, and I think it’s Deutzia crenata ‘Plena’ – but I wouldn’t swear to it. Here it is hulking behind the ‘Sally Holmes’ rose.
These days it seems the only Deutzia one sees anymore is the cute little ‘Nikko’ variety. Our Deutzia is unfashionably large, I’d say a good ten feet tall.
‘Plena’ has frilly double flowers. I usually don’t like double flowers, but I find these appealing.
Over the years this Deutzia has had large branches dropped on it from on high and suffered significant winter dieback. And yet it continues to rebound every spring.
I have tried to keep it pruned into a vase-like shape, but with little success. Despite my best efforts, the branches take on an open, sprawling habit when weighed down with flowers and raindrops.
Do you know of any full-size Deutzias out there? Do you have any plants that remind you of children’s stories?