Corylopsis in WI??

Bob_Zn5(Z5 WI)March 12, 2005

Nice article on these in this months Horticulture.

I've been toying with the idea of trying them but

have reservations about Spring cold snaps ruining

the show most years. Anyone have any experience?



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david_5311(Z 5b/6a SE Mich)

Hi Bob. I grow 3 species of coyrlopsis in my current garden, and I have moved them and bought several more for the new garden I am moving to. I think they are among the loveliest spring flowering shrubs, and the title "An antidote to Forsythia" is right on as far as I am concerned. They are really elegant plants, and have far more class than forsythia. I also think they are hardier than billed. One of the three, C. sinensis. I grew from a 1 gallon container starting 16 years ago. It went through the very cold winter of 1993-94, (-27F), had reduced bloom the following spring, but has been a very tough, hardy plant for me here in zone 5b. It has lovely bluish gray foliage too. I thing it deserves more praise in this group than it generally gets (and more than Burell gives it). Here it is with its hanging primrose chains in my garden last April

The ascending sinuous branches are lovely. This shows the habit (Helleborus x nigercors is the plant in the foreground)

I also grow C. spicata but don't have a picture.

C. pauciflora is a smaller, dainter plant, perhaps not quite as showy for me since the flower chains are smaller, but still lovely. It had slightly reduced flowering after the very severe winter of 2002-3, one of the hardest here on woodies, but also seems pretty tough to me. I think it is solidly zone 5b hardy though only rated to zone 6 by most. Mine is maybe 8-9 years old

By the way, though the article mentions concern about spring frosts damaging flowering, I have never had any significant loss of the spring display by late frosts (unlike magnolias, for example). You want to plant them in protected areas (east exposure, part shaded), but they are pretty tough I think and tolerate light frosts with no problem.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2005 at 8:54PM
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Bob_Zn5(Z5 WI)

You are certainly at least a climate zone warmer than here. I wouldn't attempt evergreen Rhodies & I see you have several. Also, we're about 10-15 miles West of Lake Mich. & don't get much temp buffering from the lake. Last week it was in the mid 40s, low 50s. It went into the single digits last night. Thats it for the snowdrops this year & that why I'm concerned about losing the bloom on a semi regular basis/ forsythia are a gamble here (regardless of their marginal gardenworthyness). You do give cause for optimism tho & your garden looks outstanding. Is that a Serviceberry blooming in the background? I have an established one on the North side of the house. It seems to bloom reliably/ perhaps the Corylopsis would also. I think they are worth taking a chance on. Hopefully I can find a local source that stocks them at a reasonable cost. I appreciate the reply & the pics.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2005 at 9:19PM
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david_5311(Z 5b/6a SE Mich)

Fairweather Gardens is a good source for Corylopsis spp., and the plants they supply are true to name and reasonable size. Yes that's a serviceberry, the corylopsis bloom time overlaps them but starts a bit earlier most years.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2005 at 10:01PM
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They grow it at the Chicago Botanic Garden (well north of Chicago) too, although once again, the one I'm thinking of is growing in borderline 5/6 conditions. The CBG is only about two miles from the lake, and it's growing in a walled garden. It is a gorgeous thing, and I think it looks even better in David's yard.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2005 at 8:57AM
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Bob_Zn5(Z5 WI)

I've been to CBG several times altho not when the Corylopsis is in bloom. They do a nice job but it is at least 1/2 zone warmer than here (almost due West of Milwaukee). We go to Boerner Botanical Gardens fairly often & even that (appx 7 miles as the crow flies) is warmer. The site here is fairly high (for this area) & the site is largely exposed. For reasons unexplained, we tend to be at least 5 degrees cooler than Waukesha, WI which is appx 3 miles away. Regardless, I'm going to check for Fairweathers web site & give the Corylopsis a try. With the Serviceberry & Cory in early spring & witch hazels closing out the fall, I think I'll have stretched the gardening season as far as I can.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2005 at 10:56PM
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aphrodite(z4 Wisconsin)

I'm wondering if someone on the Shrub forum might have experience in a colder zone with this shrub. It looks like a nice shrub.


    Bookmark   March 20, 2005 at 8:14AM
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wyndyacre(z6B SW Ont.)

I have a C. spicata I found in a bargain bin about 6 years ago. It has survived and bloomed here in SW Ontario but has been very slow growing (still only a couple feet high) and doesn't have many blooms after a hard winter. I'm farther south than you but my property is quite exposed in the winter (surrounded by empty farm fields).
Have any of you ever seen the collection of Corylopsis at the Aboretum in Washington, DC? Absolutely stunning.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2005 at 10:26PM
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david_5311(Z 5b/6a SE Mich)

The Scott Arboretum in Swarthmore PA, at Swarthmore College, also has an excellent collection of Corylopsis for anyone in that area. So does Longwood. I have seen the huge C. spicata near the back of Longwood in full bloom, and they would cause immediate plant lust in anyone. They are 12-15' tall and wide.

BTW, of the ones I have grown myself, I really do think C. sinensis is a very hardy species. It seems to be less affected by cold winter temps than C. pauciflora. Unfortunately it is also harder to find. It is a very attractive species during the summer too, the foliage droops and has a very distinct blue-gray cast which is appealing. I think C. gotoana is reported to be a hardier species too.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2005 at 10:48AM
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