Viburnum Infatuation

Viburnum Carlesii in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Fragrant Viburnum Carlesii Blossoms (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

Heart beats silly like a big bass drum, losing all equilibrium . . . Infatuation” ~Rod Stewart

We’ve all experienced some sort of infatuation in our lives, but I’m referring to my all absorbing passion for fragrant viburnums.  When standing near their intoxicating blooms, I become distracted and disoriented.  Where am I?  Surely mythical sirens could have lured far more sailors to their lair with the scent of viburnums wafting on the ocean breeze than with their melodious songs . . .

Viburnum x Burkwoodii 'Mohawk' in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Viburnum x Burkwoodii ‘Mohawk’ (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

Right about now the luscious pale pink clusters are opening and emitting a fragrance quite unlike any other.  The scent is soft and fruity, even a little spicy, yet capable of traveling great distances to reach a welcoming recipient.  And welcome it is, when that delicious smell reaches my nostrils.  I can’t resist, and what’s more-why would I want to?

Koreanspice Viburnum & Other Flowering Companions in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Koreanspice Viburnum & other flowering companions (Photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

The two cultivars known for their sweet scent are Koreanspice Viburnum (Viburnum carlesii), which grows to about six feet tall and wide, and it’s slightly larger cousin Burkwood Viburnum (Viburnum x burkwoodii ‘Mohawk’), that tops out at ten feet tall and wide.  Both are incredibly fragrant, deciduous (zone 5-8) shrubs that produce berries for our feathered friends in summer and burgundy foliage in fall.  Carlesii and Burkwoodii would prefer moister soil, but can tolerate dry spells once established.  Mine are in full sun, but they will accept some shade as well.  Each of these jewels possesses a lush green foliage in summer, and the shrub form is complementary to neighboring plantings.  I under plant my viburnums with Stargazer and Casablanca lilies, which climb up through the branches and burst open with fragrant blooms of their own.

Viburnum Carlesii's Fall Color in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Viburnum Carlesii’s Fall Color (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

Maintenance is minimal with most viburnums, and these are no exception.  I prune for health; interfering branches or less vigorous limbs, occasionally pinching back to keep the rounded shape.  I don’t fertilize, water or pamper in any way, yet these faithful garden shrubs come back year after year.  Now is the time to sniff out these specimens at your local nursery and decide if one wouldn’t be nice by your patio or walkway.


  1. They are Beautiful!

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