Summer ends in a Blue Mist

Thankfully, in the last half of August temperatures were moderate and rainfall more regular so that much of the garden has recovered from the heat and drought of July. Over the next week heavy rain from a Gulf Coast tropical storm is forecast, so the worry is more likely to be plants floating away in flash floods rather than perishing from dry conditions.

Through the worst of the heat the Blue Mist shrubs (Caryopteris incana) looked only slightly bedraggled, and with only a bit of rain they have perked up. The yellow leafed varieties ‘Worcester Gold’ (above) and ‘Sunshine Blue’ faded in July to a drab, washed out yellow (which is not unusual at all), but in early September the foliage has revived considerably. ‘Sunshine Blue’ (below) is a newer, and supposedly superior plant, but both fade in the summer’s heat, and today both are equally yellow after two weeks of regular rainfall.

A more recent introduction, ‘Hint of Gold’ (Caryopteris x clandonensis ‘Hint of Gold’, below) has retained its yellow foliage color and perhaps will prove to be an improvement. It is said to grow more compactly, and this will be a welcome improvement over the others that flop about for a week after a storm.

For whatever odd reason I have not planted any of the green, or blue-green leafed types, but several are fine plants. Years ago I first noticed Blue Mist shrub in a garden where twenty or thirty plants were massed, and in bloom the show was irresistible. Instantly, I knew that I must plant a few in my garden, though I’ve discovered that even a single plant makes a wonderful show. I suppose that I chose yellow and variegated leaf forms to add interest prior to blooming, but green leaves or yellow, they are superb shrubs.

Above a stone seating wall I planted a trio of the variegated leaf ‘Snow Fairy’ (Caryopteris divaricata ‘Snow Fairy’ above), which blooms a few weeks later than the more common varieties. While most caryopteris are woody, and require pruning only dead branch tips each spring, ‘Snow Fairy’ is cut to the ground, where it quickly grows to an upright shrub by late spring. The green and white variegation is crisp, and the foliage is treasured nearly as much as the small September blooms.  

I’ve recently planted a newly introduced variegated Blue Mist shrub (Caryopteris x clandonensis ‘White Surprise’, above), and I’m anxious to see the flowers unfold. The foliage is nearly as showy as ‘Snow Fairy’, and it appears that the blooms will be more prominent.

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