Bright as a beacon on this gray, drizzly day, my pearlbush is in full bloom. Tons of pure white, cup-shaped flowers stand out in the shrub border. The common name comes from the perfectly rounded buds that resemble strings of pearls on short, terminal racemes. Finally this slow growing shrub that I started from a 1 gallon pot about 10 years ago has reached a size where I can cut flowers for a showy bouquet and still leave a magnificent, full garden display.
The rest of the year it doesn’t look like much. Dull green, oblong leaves are sparely placed on gray branches so the overall appearance is open and plain. I wouldn’t call the form graceful; it bends toward the sun in a floppy manner. This rose family denizen, however, is a bold, powerful sight in early spring and its carefree manner more than makes up for it’s ho-hum summer appearance.
Exochorda ‘The Bride’ is a compact shrub said to top out at 6′ high and almost twice as wide. We’ll see: mine is about 3′ now. The size makes it usable in a small garden. It is thriving in full sun with minimal summer water, and the soil it’s in is rocky and certainly not rich. Other than now, when it’s a blooming knockout, I seldom notice it in the shrub border, but that’s just fine. I give it a shaping and create a lovely arrangement with the prunings in early to mid-April depending on it’s bloomtime.
A squat vase is perfect for the short flowering racemes, which I have mixed with camellia leaves and shapely branches of contorted filbert. In keeping with the nuptial theme, the basket cradling the vase next to my front entry is stuffed with Spanish moss and champagne corks.
‘The Bride’ is a French cultivar introduced in the early 1900s. I can attest for it’s reliable nature and stellar blooms–a marriage of attributes that has made it a botanical classic.
©Colleen Miko, 2015