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A Summertime “Blizzard”

During the summer months we Prairie gardeners do not like to be reminded of winter – it will come again soon enough! When I exclaim about the beauty of someone’s “Blizzard” at this time of year, I am not even thinking about winter; I am referring to a wonderful flowering shrub that when in bloom does indeed remind one of a whiteout during a winter blizzard. Mock orange “Blizzard” has been a staple of many Prairie gardens for years and deservedly so, as it is a dependable and lovely plant.

Mock orange is a fairly large shrub, reaching a height of 1-1/2 metres and having a width of at least a metre. It can be used in a number of ways in the landscape: it is a good addition to a mixed shrub border; I have seen it used as an individual specimen plant; and it also can be included in foundation plantings.

Mock orange prefers moist, well-drained and rich soil but is quite adaptable and will thrive in less-than- ideal conditions. The shrub is actually quite drought tolerant so it can be planted near a foundation where the soil is liable to dry out during the summer. A southern exposure is ideal because its flower buds have been known to not survive an extremely cold winter or if a very hard, late-spring frost occurs, so a sheltered location is preferable. The shrub will tolerate partial shade although the flower production will not be as prolific.

The flowers, after all, are the main attraction of the mock orange. Its foliage is a dull, nondescript green and not spectacular – although it does turn a nice gold colour in the fall; the flowers, on the other hand, are quite stunning. They resemble orange blossoms, and smell just as sweet. The shrub is completely covered with white blossoms during its bloom time, which is late June/early July. This makes it a desirable shrub also because it blooms after the lilacs and some other early bloomers have faded. A few branches in a vase give off a pleasant scent and mock orange also can be used as a filler in an arrangement of other blooms, such as peonies.

Although “Blizzard” is the hardiest variety, there is a hybrid called “Galahad,” a cultivar called “Golden” that has attractive golden foliage, and some newer dwarf varieties, such as “Snowbelle” and “Snowflake,” but none boast the hardiness of “Blizzard” – it is suitably named! You may consider adding a touch of winter to your garden by planting a mock orange “Blizzard” in your landscape. If you do, you will be able to appreciate its beautiful and fragrant blooms for years to come.

– Albert Parsons writes from Minnedosa, Manitoba

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