Fresh green growth and pastel shades make the springtime attractive in the garden, but what really sets this off is a display of beautiful white blossom. There’s a low-growing shrub that fits the bill perfectly, the pearlbush, Exochorda × macrantha ‘The Bride’.
Pearlbush is a lovely common name for this group of plants, so called because the white flower buds are reminiscent of a string of pearls. When you know this, you can just imagine what it looks like. These pretty buds then open into five-petalled white flowers up to 3cm wide on arching branches. (Five petals, as it’s a member of the rose family, just like apple, pear, cherry and strawberry).
At RHS Garden Wisley this plant is one of the first to greet you when you enter through the ornate wrought-iron Wilks Gate beside the Laboratory (these gates commemorate the Rev. William Wilks which feature his Shirley poppies).
On the left, in front of the Garden House is a bed of these compact, arching shrubs, and round the corner you can find a viewpoint overlooking the Laboratory from the front where your foreground is a mound of white blossom. Here it’s also a great framework for clematis to extend the interest.
Exochorda × macrantha dates from about 1900 and this particular cultivar was a chance seedling at the Grootendorst nursery in Holland in the late 1930s. Since then it has become a real star in the springtime garden. It’s tolerant of most conditions and easy to look after – just prune out the weaker growth after it’s flowered so that next year’s buds – which means there’s every chance it’ll be a real star in your garden too.