Friday, July 17, 2009

Clethra alnifolia

Right near the oakleaf hydrangea from Wednesday's post, stands a Clethra alnifolia, or summersweet or sweet pepperbush, preparing to bloom.

Clethra is a native, summer-flowering, disease-resistant, fragrant shrub with lovely red fall color. So as a result it's clearly a wonderful plant to have on your palette. The one drawback it does have is that it's very late to leaf out. Your lilacs will be in bloom and bulbs will be popping out of the ground, but if you don't know any better, all you'll do is obsess over whether or not that damn clethra has died on you. It hasn't; it just likes to sleep in, so to speak. This is hardly a dealbreaker - the plant is too lovely not to use. Just forewarn skittish clients, or tuck it further back on a border so other things can mask it's bareness in the spring.

is literally the Greek name for alder (which I suppose is confusing for Greek people learning plants) and alnifolia is Latin for Alnus (alder) like foliage.

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