Earth Sky Time

In the garden and beyond

Leave a comment

A Plant I Loved Part 2

butterly on viburnum

Eastern Comma Butterflies sip nectar from a Viburnum ‘Burkwoodii’ flower


Viburnum ‘Burkwoodii’ provided magical weeks of fragrant bloom for many years in my garden.

But, in the spring of 2015 it appeared lifeless: no leaves, no buds, no green beneath the bark. I consulted an expert nurserymen who blamed its demise on extended drought. Not satisfied, I asked an arborist from the Arnold Arboretum for his opinion: “Last winter’s relentless snowfall blasted many long-lived plants into oblivion.”

I grieved the loss of my Burkwoodii and decided to have it cut down. Then I changed my mind and I am so glad I did.

Though dead, it is mostly hidden by other understory shrubs and the branches that are visible remain lovely to look it.  Most important, this small tree with its multiple branches provides nesting platforms for the scores of birds that live in my garden. I also observe them using the branches as perches, feeding stations for their fledglings, and for plucking elderberries and V. dentatum (Viburnum ‘Blue Muffin’) berries growing in the same border.

A plant that brought decades of beauty, nectar and fragrance now lives a second life as important habitat for wildlife. How cool is that?