Sunday, April 08, 2012

Beauties in the backyard Part 2 - Bunchberry

cornus canadensis

Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis) covers the ground so delightfully in our woods. I have been wondering for the last couple of years if I could use it purposely as a groundcover, rather than just enjoy it in our woods. I'm ashamed to say I have some vinca and Boston ivy growing in the front bank (a family request at a time when I was not thinking about alternatives). I have been eyeing both for years with suspicion, and I hack them back every spring, but last year both plants were clearly starting to think about world domination. I think it's time to give them the heave-ho.  This will give me the opportunity to try out a few test patches of Cornus canadensis, so I can see how long it takes them to cover ground, and if they will tolerate the almost-full-sun-but-quite-damp conditions of where I intend to trial them.

The colour swatches I picked out just for fun (maybe I will have a cornus-themed room some day), but I also hope they will lead me to ideas for planting design. Of course, colour is just one of criteria for choosing companion plants. I already know that ferns+bunchberry=awesome, but what other plant is going to grow in a way that complements, rather than runs roughshod over, the bunchberry? I found an interesting German website that shows bunchberry planted with boxwood and what looks to be a Japanese Maple, and this English website that shows them growing with rhododendrons and something grass-y. Unfortunately, the front bank where I am thinking of testing out the bunchberry is more of a mixed border/perennial border, so I want to think of compatible perennials as well as shrubs. Something to keep thinking about.

I could write more about my enjoyment in seeing it climb over 80-year-old tree stumps in the woods, but Portland Nursery talks with love about growing it in the garden:
In the lives of gardeners there are some plants that are so beautiful and special that they are worth the extra effort they may take to establish or care for; can be forgiven their idiosyncrasies and neediness in the face of the simple pleasure they bring. Cornus canadensis should be high on this list.
I just hope that, since bunchberry grows so enthusiastically in the wilder parts our yard, it actually won't be as "idiosyncratic" as Portland Nursery claims it is.

Bunchberry fall colour

1 comment:

karly barker said...

Sarah your blog is beautiful! I love your photography. Really cool seeing you make swatches out of the photos! LOVE IT