Lush Foliage with White Berries

Nandina domestica 'Alba'
November 15 2011
With the arrival of cool autumn days, creamy white berries drop in weighty clusters on nandina domestica 'Alba'. This variant sport may be difficult to locate in nurseries, but should you stumble upon it, it's a great cultivar.

This nandina, as with most plants that come to my garden, had to pass the deer resistant test in order to have a permanent location outside of my cottage garden fence. Unfortunately, deer eat nandinas. Don't let anyone convince you otherwise.

For at least four years, I have grown the 'Alba'  outside my fence. Every winter the deer devoured the foliage. The deer will literally eat nandina down to stems and stubs. It's sad to see, but the shrubs do bounce back. The nandinas sprouted new foliage every spring and were fine in the summer. That said, they were never going to be fully enjoyed or allowed to mature with the yearly winter feast.

Over the last few months, I have moved all of my nandinas (I have one other variety, 'Gulf Steam') to locations inside my cottage garden for more enjoyment. I had to first remove a few other shrubs to make the space.  The changeover has now been completed.

Nandina 'Alba' is a great evergreen shrub for zones 6-9 and can handle sun to part shade. Though it is drought tolerant, the nandina responds well to some pampering.  I can't report on foliage color changes due to the deer dining, but in the summer, the leaves have a wonderful blue-green tint.

I love to underplant shrubs, so I am keep my 'Alba' nandinas trunk-pruned like small trees. Only two of my three nandinas survived the deer destruction.

I transplanted one to a small spot beside a stone fence corner and the gable gate to the cottage garden. The nandina replaced a phlox whose color had changed from purple to salmon pink. It is underplanted with ajuga repans 'Chocolate Chip' that holds up well in summer droughts and doesn't spread as enthusiastically as other varieties. This ajuga has dark leaves and blue blooms in spring. I chose to underplant the nandina with this ajuga (also moved from another part of the garden) because there are blue-blooming geranium 'Brookside' along this same path.

The poor little deer-devoured nandina
(now beside the stone corner column)
deserved to be protected. November 2011.

Given another chance, the nandina
is underplanted with ajuga repans 'Chocolate Chip'.
November 2011.
The second nandina replaced a large 'Royal Red' buddleia that was taking up too much space within the confines of the cottage garden. I have an abundance of buddleia in the deer resistant gardens, so I won't miss the shrub that I removed.

This nandina is planted beside the bridge to the stream. I added lots of good soil and compost and smoothed the area. With the large oakleaf hollies backing this area on the outside of the fence, I'm going with a white-flower theme.

An underplanting of seeds includes white snapdragon 'La Bella White' and my favorite sweet alyssum 'Carpet of Snow.' I usually plant snapdragons and alyssum in the spring, so this is a fall sowing experiment.

To the sides of this nandina, I sowed seeds of black peony poppy for spring drama, to be pulled out for summer when a division of phlox paniculata 'David' will bloom along with the alyssum. The snapdragons, phlox and alyssum are fragrant.

As gardeners, we show patience and optimism as we plan and create new garden areas and wait months or years for the results.

The new bed will include fragrant
white phlox, sweet alyssum and snapdragons for 2012.
November 2011.

Words and photos by Freda Cameron, Defining Your Home, Garden and Travel. Deer and rabbit resistance varies based upon the animal population and availability of food. All company or product or patented names mentioned are registered trademarks, copyrights, or patents owned by those respective companies or persons.


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