“Fruity Pebbles and Cocoa Pebbles are brands of breakfast cereal introduced by Post Foods in 1971 featuring characters from the animated series The Flinstones as spokestoons. Fruity Pebbles contains crisp rice cereal bits that come in a variety of fruit flavors” (Wikipedia). Viburnum is a fantastic group of plants, numbering about 130ish, with too many cultivars to count, and are great problem solvers! Big or small, sun or shade, evergreen or deciduous, deer resistant and flowers that are either intoxicatingly fragrant or bearably tolerant, Viburnum seems to have it all. And with all that this fabulous group can offer, it is their fruit displays in the autumn and winter that has always held my attention the most. Displays of multi-colored fruit so bright, it has always conjured up images of “Fruity Pebbles” in my mind.
Viburnum dentatum ‘Christom’, Blue Muffin Arrowwood Viburnum, is a moderate grower, just 3-5 feet tall and wide making it suitable for residential foundation plantings. A deciduous beauty adorning white flowers in May and June followed by an abundant fruit display, ‘Christom’ is my favorite of the runts. Intense pea-sized blue berries mature in the later part of the summer persisting well into the fall that is attractive to butterflies and birds.
Viburnum dilatum ‘Henneke’, Cardinal Candy Viburnum, is another moderate grower with creamy white flowers in May and June. A full sun/part shade plant, this Linden Viburnum is suitable for medium sized screenings. Cardinal Candy offers improved hardiness over other dilatum types and produces abundant amounts of bright red fruit this time of year.
Viburnum dilatum ‘Michael Dodge’, Michael Dodge Linden Viburnum, was so named after him and selected by Winterthur Garden where he had worked at the time of the selection. Perhaps the most dramatic selection showcasing rich bright yellow fruit against a backdrop of scarlet-red fall foliage. This 5-6 foot tall and wide selection prefers full to partial sun. Incidentally, Linden Viburnum have their common name as their leaves resemble that of Linden trees, Tilia.
Viburnum nudum ‘Winterthur’, Winterthur Possumhaw Viburnum, tolerates virtually any soil composition. Appreciative of sun to part shade, ‘Winterthur’ is an introduction of Winterthur Gardens in Delaware and winner of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society Gold Medal in 1991. Aromatic white flowers are followed by clusters of ovoid fruit that change color as they ripen. Morphing from light pink to dark pink to blue and eventually purplish-black, these fruits are highlighted against its maroon to dark purple leaves.
Viburnum prunifolium, Blackhaw Viburnum, gives another representation to our native plant lovers out there. A large, upright Viburnum, 10-15 feet tall and 6-12 feet wide, Blackhaw has been known to touch 30 feet in a tree form. A non-fragrant variety, Blackhaw has remarkable blue-black, berry-like drupes, which often persist into the winter helping to satisfy wildlife appetites. The fruits are in fact edible and often used in preserves and jams.
Finally my personal favorite, Viburnum rhytidophyllum ‘Cree’, Leatherleaf Viburnum ‘Cree’. This evergreen selection, introduced in 1994 by the National Arboretum, has coarse, quilted, dark green leaves and is extremely deer resistant. Expect gorgeous red fruit to turn a shiny black in our colder months. A compact selection of the species, ‘Cree’s’ leaves do not roll or curl even in our most harsh winters.
Viburnum is truly a family for everyone. “A garden without Viburnum is akin to life without music or art” (Manual of Woody Landscape Plants, Michael Dirr).