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Burkwood Viburnum in the Scented Garden

The most satisfying garden is a sensual experience, pulling you in with enticing melodies and wrapping you in voluptuous layers of texture and color and powerful, though often subtle aromas. You breathe it in and it seeps into your consciousness, where it lies like opium, drawing you back again and again.

Viburnum x burkwoodii belongs in a garden like that. Burkwood viburnum has sweet, spicy flowers, perfect for the scented garden.There are over 150 species of Viburnum, and I grow a few of them. One of my favorites is Burkwood viburnum, a wonderful plant for the shrub border or as a specimen. Though it looks a little gangly in its youth, it will mature to a dense shrub up to 8 to 10 feet with either a rounded or upright habit. The leaves are lustrous green with downy undersides. Usually deciduous, it may be evergreen in the mildest regions. Mohawk and Chenaultii are cultivars that have impressive fall color. 

Birds and butterflies love this shrub. Red to pink flower buds appear in 3 inch snowball shaped clusters in spring, opening to creamy white flowers with a marvelous sweet, spicy scent. Its green berries turn red, then black as summer arrives.

Burkwood viburnum will grow in hardiness zones 4-8, in full to part sun. It likes moist, well drained, slightly acid soil, but it can tolerate less than ideal conditions. An easy care shrub, it is heat and drought tolerant. It needs little if any fertilizing.

Burkwood viburnum is an ornamental shrub with multiseasonal interest, and my scented garden would not be complete without it. 


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Reader Comments (25)

Your first paragraph alone sums up a beautiful garden experience so nicely! And a lovely plant too!

March 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMark and Gaz

Oh what beautiful photos of this lovely plant. I can forgive a lax habit if a plant is loved by butterflies and bees and is highly fragrant. Your scented garden must smell glorious in spring!

March 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterThe Gardening Shoe

These shrubs are beautiful. I have three types of Viburnum. Unfortunately, I don't remember what the names are.

March 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterChristy

That sounds like one to add to the list, with beautiful flowers and a perfume to match, I'm sure I can find a spot for it!

March 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPauline Mulligan

I don't have any viburnums in my garden, and this post reminded me that I need to add at least one! Such a pretty bloom. Wish I could smell it through the computer!

March 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHolleyGarden

Hi Deb
I have Viburnum 'Burkwoodii' right in front of my dining room window, off the side of the deck. It is one my earliest bloomers and your are right: the fragrance is out of this world!! So lovely! I'm glad you can enjoy it near your home as well.

March 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAstrid

That viburnum blossom looks so waxy and perfect! I can just imagine its spicy sweet scent. mmmm.

March 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLaurrie

I love Mohawk viburnum for its wonderful scented flowers but mine never makes berries. Does this happen for you regularly?

What a lovely shrub...I agree the scents of the garden are so much a part of it as the blooms and foliage....it brings me peaceful solace as I drink in through all my senses.

March 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDonna@Gardens Eye View

So how does this plant compare to the Korean Spice Viburnum, which I often hear touted for its fragrance? I have Cranberrybush and Blackhaw Viburnum, they are very attractive but not fragrant.

March 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJason

Hello, everyone! Thanks for stopping by and taking time to comment. That means a lot to me!

Carolyn, my Burkwood viburnum does produce berries, but they are not particularly showy, and they don't seem to last long on the shrubs; the birds eat them up. I do know that in order to produce berries many viburnums need to be cross-pollinated by other shrubs of similar, but not exactly the same, species. So in order to have good berry production, you can't have just one.

Jason, I have a Korean spice viburnum, and it is hard for me to tell the difference. In fact, Korean spice is one of the parents of Burkwood. Deborah

March 22, 2013 | Registered CommenterDeborah Elliott

I am in Zone 8 and the number of different viburnums that grow her is quite amazing. They seem to thrive under almost any condition, and yes, I do love the fragrance. I have just one in my garden, but I enjoy it immensely. Your post was very enjoyable the photos were really appreciated.

March 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCharlie

I have many Burkwood's planted in my gardens and I so love the sweet blooms in Spring... their scent is heavenly. The birds do seem to enjoy the tiny berries the rest of the year.

March 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCarolyn

Like you, I love Viburnums. The fragrance of this one especially. At the nursery farm, I love going into the field that grows them when in bloom. Hundreds and hundreds of them. Nothing is more enticing, well, except when the lilacs bloom.

March 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDonna

I love the opening of your post and especially the sentence, "You breathe it in and it seeps into your consciousness, where it lies like opium, drawing you back again and again." What beautiful writing! I have one very large viburnum, which I inherited from our home's previous gardener. I delight in its small clusters of flowers each spring.

March 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer

sounds wonderful, I love plants with aromas/fragrance/perfume whether it is the flowers or foliage, I keep hearing about Viburnums one day I will see if any will grow in my garden conditions, yours looks beautiful, Frances

March 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterIsland Threads

I have this viburnum growing in my Gettysburg garden. It's still in its awkward adolescent stage, but I very much enjoyed the flowers last year. Right now, I have tight little beige buds, but I'm looking forward to fragrant flowers in a few weeks.

March 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJean

By focusing on flowering perennials, I haven't paid enough attention to flowering shrubs. Thanks for introducing me to this one.

March 24, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterallan becker

I had no idea that it took the colder temps....and I can give it the slightly acidic soil, oh can I ever.

The moisture might be a small problem...but still, the scent would be so worth the watering.


March 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

That viburnum looks and sounds so lovely! The flowers remind me of sugar flowers.

March 25, 2013 | Unregistered Commentersweetbay

Thank you for awakening my senses to a smell I know well. Our last home came complete with two matching and mature viburnums near the front door. Each morning the door would open, and heaven's scent wafted in the opening! You've reminded me that I am 13 years overdue to plant one in our current garden!!!

March 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJayne

Stunning photographs Deb and a great feature on an underused shrub. My viburnum is just breaking bud - can't wait. Just a single floret perfumes an entire room

March 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKaren Chapman

I love that first paragraph. It really grabs the reader. :o) I love viburnum and now want to run to the nursery to sniff a Burkwood. I'm always trying to add more fragrance to my garden. I wish I had room for this beauty.

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCasa Mariposa

Hey, Deb, thanks for reminding me of how delicious viburnum smells and looks; I'd forgotten, as mine has been iced and snowed in for so long here in Connecticut. Cheers!

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLee May

So well said! I love jasmine, particularly stephanotis. These blossoms are beautiful. Don't you wish you could upload the scent? I do! Jeannine

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJeannine
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