Colorful Ninebarks: A new spin on a trusty native

Have you met the sensational members of the Ninebark clan? No? Well, you should. There’s a ninebark for every garden.

The new kids on the block are the sons and daughters –offshoots-of the hardy native ninebark, physocarpus opufolius. Found in the colder climates of the United States, ninebarks are tough and adaptable, tolerating part shade, full sun, alkaline and acidic soils, hot high desert climates and cold mountain winters. The common name of ninebark comes from the legend the plant sports nine layers of bark. These handsome, vertically peeling bark layers contribute to winter interest of this shrub.

The new kids on the block are colorful, deciduous shrubs for the perennial and mixed border, some 8-12 feet tall with graceful arching branches; some smallish, just 3-4 feet tall.
Far West Garden Center in Boise has a great selection of ninebarks in stock. Check these out:

Center Glow â„¢ will grow 8-10 feet tall and as wide. New foliage unfolds a bright lime green and slowly turns burgundy as the leaves age, with the paler green and rusty orange at the center of the leaves. As the season progresses Center Glow shows all these foliage colors at once, creating a wonderful focal point in the garden.

Summer Wine â„¢ is the love child of Diabolo and Nana. It’s a smaller variety, with dense and gorgeous dark purplish-bronze foliage. Just 5-6 feet tall and three feet wide, a single plant can be tucked into the perennial border for color emphasis or planted in clusters of three for a big impact. In June, Summer Wine is covered with clusters of pinkish-cream flowers. It is especially nice with blue flowering (for a moody look) or pink flowering (for a warm, complementary scheme) plants. In particular, sedum ‘Matrona.’

Little Devil is just that, a charming little ninebark, growing only 3-4 feet tall and 3-4 feet wide – making it perfect for the smaller garden and sensational in a container. Little D has very finely dark burgundy/dark green leaves, and the new stems have an attractive reddish tint.