While prompting no more celebration than an approving nod, I am happy that several flowers are coming along on a ‘Marvel’ mahonia (Mahonia x media ‘Marvel’, below) that was moved earlier this year from a too shaded spot where it did not bloom since planting several years ago. There are plants in the garden that fail to perform, or fall short in less than ideal circumstances, and occasionally there is an opening where a mahonia (or whatever) can be transplanted. This move will be a success, I think.
This newer mahonia introduction has fewer spines (only one at leaf tips), so ‘Marvel’ is far less lethal in handling, but otherwise I expect it will thrive just as similar, late autumn flowering ‘Winter Sun’ (below) and ‘Charity’. ‘Underway’ mahonia was lost several years ago due to my prolonged inattention as it was engulfed by a wide spreading paperbush (Edgeworthia chrysantha), but others grow vigorously though rare drops in winter temperatures nearing zero (Fahrenheit) are obviously stressful.
If ‘Marvel’ will flower dependably, this will add to blooms that often persist a few weeks into the new year.
Several late summer flowering, narrow leafed mahonias have failed to survive typical northern Virginia winters, and more than once I’ve sworn off planting another ‘Soft Caress’ (Mahonia eurybracteata ‘Soft Caress’, below) that has repeatedly perished. But, never rarely means never. Another was obtained from a discard pile, and of course it survived the very mild winter a year ago. I expect a more typical winter, at least some day, so ‘Soft Caress’ will again be put to the test.
Leaves of ‘Beijing Beauty’ (Mahonia eurybracteata ‘Beijing Beauty’) are slightly wider than ones of ‘Soft Caress’, with a less pleasing texture. In a protected spot it has survived several years, though with its proximity to the house I cannot claim that it is more cold hardy.
The late winter flowering Leatherleaf mahonia (Mahonia bealei, below) is the hardiest of the bunch, but flowers are followed by attractive, small, grape like fruits that are eaten and seeds distributed by robins so that they are included on invasive lists. Clusters of fruit can be removed prior to ripening, but a few nearby seedlings are found on occasion.