April's Plant of the month

Pearly whites for an April bride: pearlbush ‘The Bride’

Exochorda × macrantha 'The Bride'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).
 
Exochorda × macrantha 'The Bride'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.

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