Summer Scents Brought to You by Clethra
If you are a gardener who loves fragrance, a must-have in your garden for the summer scent is Clethra, Summersweet. The attractive, wonderfully-scented flowers bloom on upright panicles from July into August. To experience this scent for yourself, simply walk through the John W. Nason garden, where the majority of our Clethra collection is located.
While on this stroll through our garden of texture (John W. Nason garden), you can enjoy the sights and smells of this genus. Featured in the John W. Nason garden are several attractive cultivars of Clethra, including our favorite pink cultivar, C. alnifolia ‘Ruby Spice.’
C. alnifolia ‘Ruby Spice’ was selected by Andy Brand of Broken Arrow Nursery from a sport on ‘Pink Spires’ because of the rich rose shade of its pink flowers. These inflorescences also hold their color until senescence. ‘Ruby Spice’ reaches a height of 4 to 6 feet. This remarkable cultivar has received the Cary Award, given to distinctive plants for New England, and the Gold Medal Plant Award, given to trees, shrubs, and woody vines of outstanding merit by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society.
For those small gardens, a more compact form is found growing in the Harry Wood Garden called C. alnifolia ‘Hummingbird’. Also a Gold Medal Plant Award winner, ‘Hummingbird’ was selected by Mr. Fred Galle, formerly of Callaway Gardens, along Hummingbird Lake at Callaway Gardens. Selected for its compact height of 30 to 40 inches, ‘Hummingbird’ produces fragrant, white inflorescences.
In addition to a lovely scent in your garden, Clethra has very attractive yellow fall color. An eastern United States native, it functions well as a border shrub that can tolerate wet soils and blooms well in the shade. Planting Clethra will add summers scents and attractive fall color to your garden.