Good Veins

Red Veined Enkianthus in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Red Veined Enkianthus (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

None of us like it when varicose veins start showing up in our legs, in fact some pay good money to have them removed. You may choose to hide those vessels under long pants and tinted stockings, or simply refrain from shaving your legs and let hair be the camouflage. As for me, my veins are a badge of honor, representing the life I have lived thus far. My strong, varicose laced legs carried my daughter, granddaughter, dozens of animals, thousands of bags of groceries, hundreds of wheel barrow loads of plant materials and gallons of water. My legs are there when I hike for hours, horseback ride, bike ride, swim, ice skate, garden, wade through deep snow and stroll on the beach. Yes, I have showy veins and they are a tribute to my active, wonderful lifestyle.

The Gorgeous Red veined bells of Enkianthus in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

The Gorgeous Red veined bells of Enkianthus campanulatus (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Alas, there is a fabulous shrub that is also proud to flaunt its veins; Enkianthus campanulatus, commonly called red veined enkianthus, whose name campanulatus is derived from the Latin word meaning bell shaped. Red veined enkianthus, native to the woodlands of Japan, produces masses of stunning bell shaped flowers striped with scarlet veins every spring (late May to early June), which are guaranteed to “ring your bells” the first time you see them. The upside-down cups appear in pendulous clusters from every limb of the shrub, creating a striking focal point in the spring landscape. And when the flowers pass, the attractive bluish green foliage resembles that of its sibling Pieris members all through the summer months.

Enkianthus's striking fall color in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Enkianthus’ striking fall color (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Enkianthus campanulatus is an upright, relatively slow growing shrub, eventually reaching 6-8 feet tall, although it may grow over 10 feet after many years. They favor a nutrient rich, moist but well drained soil in full sun to part shade (Zones 4-7), and you’ll want to place this specimen shrub where it will be viewed through the seasons, whether in a border or as a centerpiece. For not only does the red veined enkianthus offer gorgeous spring chimes and intricately tiered branches, but it displays the most splendid shades of gold, orange and crimson each autumn. If possible, pair Enkianthus campanulatus with a blue foliaged companion to enhance its many attributes through the growing season.  Yet, no matter what you partner an enkianthus with, you’ll never be disappointed with the outcome!

When we appreciate the beauty that surrounds us in nature, we may also appreciate the beauty in ourselves . . . right down to our varicose veins ~

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