The Viburnum family contains a number of easily cultivated, evergreen and deciduous shrubs, including several of the choicest woody plants for a shrub border or a woodland garden.
Many of the species have white flowers, some fragrant, in flat heads or rounded curymbs, often followed by brightly coloured fruits. Several of the evergreen species have a most striking leaf, while many of the deciduous species give rich autumn colour. Those species grown for their fruits give the most satisfactory results when planted two or more together to assist with cross pollination. Note that the fruits may cause mild stomach upset if eaten.
Most varieties are fully hardy to frost hardy although, in frost prone pockets, protect viburnums from cold, drying winds, which can desiccate the foliage during periods of prolonged frost.
Pruning is fairly straightforward. Prune the evergreen varieties in this part of Scotland in late spring (Viburnum Tinus and its sister varieties can be pruned fairly hard) and the deciduous varieties immediately after flowering.
Apply a balanced fertiliser such as fish, blood and bone meal (60gms/square metre) to help stimulate new growth.
Viburnums will grow well in moderately fertile, moist but well-drained soil in full sun or partial shade. Viburnum lantanoides requires a lime free soil for best results.
Pests and diseases to look out for in particular are aphids and viburnum beetles can be a problem. Viburnum Tinus is also prone to leaf spot, especially in the wetter, colder climate of West Lothian, less so in East Lothian.
There are over 130 different varieties of viburnums and the National Viburnum Collection is held by the Derby City Parks Department.
Here are a number of varieties to suit most situations and tastes:
Viburnum x bodnantense â€˜Dawnâ€™
Clusters of striking pink flushed flowers, ageing to white, appearing in late winter / early spring on deciduous stems. Conspicuously sweet scented when in full flower.
Again a variety noted for its sweet scented pale pink flowers in spring, with long, dark green leaves turning red in autumn before shedding. Fairly strong growing up to 2m in height.
A compact evergreen form with glossy, long, dark green leaves. Bears masses of tiny, tubular white flowers in late spring, followed by oval shaped metallic blue fruit. Slow growing up to 1m in height.
Viburnum Opulus (Guelder Rose)
Vigorous, bushy, deciduous shrub with maple-shaped dark green leaves, turning red in autumn. Showy, flat, white, large florets in early summer, followed by bright red, fleshy fruits in autumn. Will easily grow to 3m in height.
This form includes many good varieties such as Eva Price, Gwenlian, French White and Purpureum. A bushy, evergreen shrub with narrow, ovate, dark green leaves. Carries clusters of white flowers over a long period in late winter and spring. Pleasantly scented, occasionally followed by oval, dark blue fruit, again a strong growing variety up to 3.5m in height.