Botanical Name: Pieris Japonica . Common Name : Lily of the valley shrub.
I was roaming around my friend’s garden this week and I saw this beautiful plant in full flower. In fact I think it was the only plant in the whole garden with flowers! It had no plant label but I immediately put the name Pieris to it, as its leaves and flower shape fully resembled the common Pieris, my only problem was, that my Pieris shrubs flower during early summer and here it was in full flower at the end of December! But there is always something to learn even for the veteran gardener- and after doing my homework I was pleased to find that it was a Pieris as predicted – but a type that is specifically bred to show off its blooms at this time of the year. After looking through plant catalogues and internet sites, I am slowly being pursuaded to buy one myself but first I had to pick a few from my friend’s bush and see if the flowers would look good in a vase, which of course they do, especially with their lush evergreen foliage.
The common name; lily of the valley shrub, stems from the shape of the tiny flowers that are pitcher shaped and hang along the stem resembling a long stalk of lily of the valley. Pieris is a common shrub that is planted mainly to give a fiery display of juvenile foliage in spring, which after it reverts to green can be cut back again to give a further display of red leaves.
Which species of pieris for winter flowers?
Many varieties hardly have flowers and even those that do, they are definitely not as welcome during summer when so many other plants in bloom overshadow them, but in winter this plant is a definite winner. So I will be looking to buy one of the types. ‘Snow Queen Winter Flowering’, ‘White Rim Winter Flowering’, and I also found a pink variety ‘Firecrest Pink Delight Winter Flowering’. In my case these last two words ‘Winter Flowering’ are all important because otherwise I have no room for just another Pieris!
Planting and growing pieris
There are all sorts of Pieris Japonica and they are generally pest free easy to grow shrubs. The Pieris enjoys similar conditions to rhododendron and azalea , so if you have succeeded with them , there should be no difficulty in growing Pieris. If your soil has a low pH you will have to add peat, organic matter or buy in ericaceous compost to raise the acidity of the soil before planting a shrub like Pieris.
So let’s try planting something new to usher in the new year with a cracking display during this otherwise dull month on the garden scene!