The blue mist of late summer

In one year ‘Hint of Gold’ blue mist shrub (Caryopteris x clandonensis ‘Lisaura’, above) has grown from hardly more than a rooted cutting to three feet across and nearly as tall. Its branches are more rigid and its form more compact than other blue mists in the garden, and foliage retains its yellow color through the heat of summer. I’ve planted Worcester Gold (Caryopteris x clandonensis ‘Worcester Gold’, below) and ‘Sunshine Blue’, and these often fade a bit by mid summer. The foliage of ‘Hint of Gold’ has a thicker substance, and it has faded only slightly.

The flowers of ‘Hint of Gold’ are similar to other blue mist shrubs (but lighter in color than ‘Dark Knight’, below), with small, lacy blooms clustered at the base of each group of leaves. A mass planting of caryopteris is stunning in late summer, but I’ve plugged single plants into various sunny spots that were too green otherwise and needed a bit of summer color. A few older blue mist shrubs have begun to fade as shade has encroached, so this is a plant that requires nearly full sun.  

At the same time as ‘Hint of Gold’, I planted the variegated leaf ‘White Surprise’ (Caryopteris x clandonensis ‘White Surprise’ below), and it has grown much more slowly in a slightly shaded location where its foliage is more important than flowers. This spot is also a bit damp, and though ‘White Surprise’ is alive and healthy, I have some question that it might prefer drier soil. It flowered a year ago, and I’ve no doubt that it will bloom again in the next few weeks, but it will take a little longer for this slower growing blue mist to make much of an impact.

The branches of semi shrubs like blue mist are typically cut back by half in early spring, but the stems of the variegated leaf ‘Snow Fairy’ blue mist shrub (Caryopteris divaricata ‘Snow Fairy’, below) are less woody, and are cut off just above the base like a perennial. The foliage of ‘Snow Fairy’ is similar to ‘White Surprise’, but the flowers are later and less substantial. 

I’ve had to do some aggressive pruning to rescue ‘Snow Fairy’ this summer. A neighboring oakleaf hydrangea had lived harmoniously in close proximity for several years, but this spring it decided to expand its territory to grow much wider. ‘Snow Fairy’ was losing the battle until I cut out several branches of the hydrangea to give it a bit more space. I’ll have to take care in future springs to make sure that room is carved out so this splendid blue mist shrub isn’t lost.

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