An Easy Shrub for Autumn Brilliance

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If you can say rhododendron or chrysanthemum, you can say enkianthus—en-kee-ANN-thus.  And whether or not you can say it, you should certainly think about planting this very easy, no-problems shrub.  It has pretty spring flowers, like upside-down lily of the valley.  But in the fall, the foliage color is spectacular.  This is a photo I took in my garden last week.  The bright gold is showstopping, especially against the dark evergreens around it.  But I have another with fire-engine red foliage and no, I have no explanation for the difference. 

Enkianthus grows in the shade in my garden.  They grow slowly to about six feet and more but are narrow so don’t take up a lot of room.  Mine have never had any problems. After planting them in good soil, I have done nothing for them for decades.  My kind of shrub!  Each fall, they reward me with this glorious display. 

They are native to Japan and you won’t find them at Home Depot but a good nursery should have a selection.  The full name is Enkianthus campanulatus.  They are in the same family as rhododendrons, azaleas and other familiar shrubs, although they look nothing like them. They are deciduous—drop their leaves in winter. 

Virginia Lopez Begg, Andover Garden Club