Entries in mock orange (4)


Charmed by Mock Orange

I am charmed by the old-fashioned mock orange growing in my garden. It is a tall, multi-stemmed shrub that produces copious, citrusy-smelling white blooms in spring that are attractive to butterflies.

The particular variety I have is Philadelphus coronarius, called the sweet mock orange. It is also sometimes called English dogwood, though there is no relation to the flowering dogwood tree. There are many Philadelphus species and cultivars, and not all of them are fragrant; so if fragrance is important to you, it is best to purchase your plant when it is blooming. Philadelphus virginalis and Philadelphus lewisii are also noted as fragrant species.

There are small varieties, such as Philadelphus virginalis, which grows to 4' tall x 2' wide, but many mock oranges are large shrubs or small trees, growing up to 12 feet or larger, often as wide as tall. Be sure to give them plenty of room! These are vigorous, easy-to-grow plants that are drought tolerant and that have few pests. Hardy in USDA zones 4-8, they will adapt to many soils but prefer well-drained, loamy conditions. They like full sun to partial shade.

Some people complain that mock oranges are one-season plants. Most mock oranges are deciduous but offer little fall color. The long, twiggy, often drooping branches can become dense and unkempt. I protest! There are newer cultivars for smaller gardens, and there are also some available with striking colored or variegated foliage. As for the larger types, I have easily maintained my mock orange in an attractive vase shape by selective pruning once a year after blooming. I remove unwanted runners and also prune out up to a third of old branches at the base. This promotes good air flow through the plant and improves blooming. 

Note: Do not confuse Philadelphus with the Japanese mock orange, Pittosporum tobira, which is a completely different plant. It helps to know the Latin!




Arbor Garden, 2016

The Arbor Garden, originally called the Lady Garden, is eight years old. It has taken that long for me to develop a clear vision of what I want. While it has not yet become the enclosed garden room I dream about, the plants along the periphery are growing; and it is easier to see what it will become. The Arbor Garden has always been one of my favorite places to sit and enjoy wildlife, but with rough edges and a large sloping layout, it has never been particularly photogenic. Here are some recent shots taken in and around the space, and at the end of the post I'll show you some views taken when the area was first being developed, so you can see some of the changes.

Overview of the Arbor Garden taken from the patio:

Steps leading from the patio to the Arbor Garden:

Some plantings beside the steps:

A close-up of 'Red Dragon' Persicaria, seen on the right in the above image:

Chinese Snowball Viburnum and Philadelphus, AKA Mock Orange and English Dogwood, next to the Arbor Garden:

Here is a view of the Mock Orange taken from within the Arbor Garden:

Hellebores grow around the Mock Orange. They have been blooming for months and have mostly faded to greenish-white, but they are still beautiful. Their lovely foliage is evergreen and will give the ground a green covering when the flowers are gone:

Here is the entrance to the Arbor Garden:

One of the first things I added to the Arbor Garden was this large urn. I put a fern in it every year:

This is a current view of the sitting area and the arbor swing:

Here is a closer view of the small sitting area near the arbor swing - don't miss the chandelier!

The plant in the green pot is 'Banana Boat' Creeping Broad-leaved Sedge:

I have a couple of small green chairs on the landing, which is a step down from the arbor swing. This chair holds a pot of plants, which have not grown enough yet to really show up. I also have planted some woodland phlox and some dwarf mondo grass between the pavers here::

Moss is spreading to cover the ground around the large urn in the middle of the Arbor Garden. A number of 'stepable' ground covers are intermingling with the moss and each other. Hopefully, in another year one will not see any bare earth. These are some of the ground covers, as well as some other plants that are planted in pots in the Arbor Garden:Clockwise from top: Maidenhair fern, Leopard Plant and Variegated Carex grow together in a large red pot; Creeping Jenny ((Lysimachia nummularia 'Aurea') and purple clover blend together; Creeping Jenny and Oxalis; 'Ogon' Japanese Sedum and Ajuga; Impatiens and Dusty Miller are easy annuals growing in pots.

Finally, here are a few views taken years ago when the Arbor Garden was much younger. The top image was taken in May, 2008, very soon after the arbor swing was completed. Some stonework was done, and the urn was in place. The views below the top image were all taken in 2010:

 You may also enjoy reading some previous posts about the Arbor (Lady) Garden:

The Lady and the Arbor Garden

Rocking Along in the Lady Garden

I See You, Owl!