Elaeagnus umbellata (Autumn-olive)
A favorite of migrating songbirds, this large, tree-like shrub has a reputation as an aggressive garden bully. It’s a reputation well deserved. Blame it on the birds: They find the succulent, red autumn fruit irresistible and disperse the seeds far and wide.
Yet, for many years I have grown and treasured five multibranched, shapely plants. Yes, I’m forever pulling up unwanted seedlings, but, on balance, Autumn-olive’s virtues far outweigh the bother.
Every Spring, the shrub’s lovely white flowers release an intoxicating perfume that travels on the air. (Love those fragrant plants!) And the abundant berries produced in the Fall are very showy. As are the silvery undersides of the shrub’s green foliage.
Given acid, well-drained soil, Autumn-olive is easy-care, hardy, drought tolerant and shade tolerant.
And, most important, if you grow Elaeagnus umbellata, the birds will thank you.
Note: Autumn-olive is very similar to Russian-olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia), which sports gray-green foliage and yellow fruit.
Viburnum sargentii ‘Onondaga’
What a grand shrub this is! Introduced by the U.S. National Arboretum in 1966, Onondaga, a multi-season performer, deserves a wider audience. In Spring, the new soft foliage emerges bronzy-pink before turning green. Then in May, the shrub produces fabulous lace-cap type, bicolor flowers, with dark-pink budded centers edged with snowy-white florets.
And, as shown in the photos above, it’s a showstopper in the Fall when the leaves turn to shades of glowing pink.
My 8 foot plant flourishes in shade and for over fifteen years has been easy-care and disease-free.
Autumn is my favorite time of year. More garden splendor to come.