A handful of hybrid mahonia cultivars (Mahonia x media) are barely distinguishable from one another, but I’ve determined to obtain one or more of each. Multiples are necessary to plant in varied conditions, so at least one if not all will thrive. That I often cannot recall which is which after several years is inconsequential, and fortunately, none have failed to survive, though ones in shade perform more poorly than those in more sun.
Yes, I am an incorrigible collector. Not a hoarder, I think, but curious to include in the garden as many of the varied favorites as can be found. Not only mahonias, but a variety of trees, shrubs, and perennials. In defense, there are plants that are quite nice that I’ve planted only one of, so I am capable of restraint.
It is likely that there are variations between mahonia cultivars in mature size, or perhaps one is more or less upright than others, but in early years following planting these differences are not readily apparent. The flowers are similar, if not the same, with most notable differences occurring with sunlight exposures that also effect timing of flowering. While ‘Winter Sun’ in part sun begins flowering in early November, another with less sunlight begins several weeks later.
What purpose is there for planting hybrids ‘Winter Sun, ‘Underway’, ‘Charity’, and ‘Marvel’, along with several spring flowering Leatherleaf mahonias (Mahonia bealei), and early autumn blooming ‘Bejing Beauty’ that is similar to ‘Narihira’ and ‘Soft Caress’ mahonias that have proved not to be sufficiently cold hardy for this garden? Curiosity seems a suitable answer that masks possible mental deficiencies that my wife would offer as explanation.