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Add a Paper Bush (Edgeworthia papyrifera)

February 10, 2013 by

Flexible stems work in children’s gardens

One of my earliest gardening friends introduced me to Paper Bush (Edgeworthia papyrifera), and I haven’t been able to forget it since. It is an odd little shrub and not well-known.

Paper Bush is a “stemmy” shrub that bears clusters of tiny, trumpet shaped, creamy yellow flowers so fragrant you can catch the smell on a breeze yards away. Best of all, these flowers bloom in winter and early spring when little else is happening in the garden. They usually take center stage or share the spotlight with the likes of hellebores and winter jasmine.

After blooming for a few weeks, Paper Bush blends into most environments without fanfare. The shrubs love rich, evenly moist soil and can handle full sun, but in my experience they look better in a little afternoon shade in Middle Tennessee. In an ideal location, they can grow to be 6-by-6-feet, but I’ve never seen seen one in this region larger than 4 feet.

Paper Bush has a place in the landscape as either a specimen or conversation starter. Aside from its obvious charm, Paper Bush has stems that are so fibrous, you can literally tie them in knots without splitting the wood. This unusual trait makes the shrub perfect for the “kid’s section” of the garden.

I love to design for children, and I’ll be designing around an Edgeworthia for my son’s garden in the backyard this spring. I’m hoping plants like Paper Bush will spur the horticultural interest among the next generation at my house and beyond.

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