A Closer Look at Spring’s White Flowering Plants in Niagara

by Anna

Springtime in Niagara unfolds like a vibrant canvas, splashed with a profusion of colors that captivate the senses. For plant enthusiasts like myself, the allure of blossoms in full bloom can be both enchanting and distracting, especially while navigating the roads.

During recent excursions, I couldn’t help but notice the prevalence of white flowering trees and shrubs adorning the landscape, some of which may be unfamiliar to many. Allow me to introduce you to a selection of these botanical gems.

Among the myriad trees currently in bloom, one particularly stands out—the white redbud tree (Cercis canadensis f. alba). While its native counterpart is more commonly recognized, the white redbud distinguishes itself with its early spring display of dainty white blossoms, preceding the emergence of leaves. Sporting heart-shaped foliage, this tree thrives in sunny to partially shaded locations with well-drained soil, reaching heights of around 20 feet with a 15-foot spread.

Another noteworthy evergreen in bloom is the Japanese pieris (Pieris japonica), also known as the lily-of-the-valley shrub. Adorning its branches are clusters of petite white bell-like flowers, emitting a sweet fragrance reminiscent of its namesake. As the blooms wane, vibrant red leaves emerge, gradually transitioning to a deep green hue. With multiple growth flushes throughout the year, this plant offers an ever-changing spectacle. Similar to rhododendrons, pieris thrives in well-drained soil and partial shade, basking in morning sunlight and afternoon shade.

Fothergilla, a personal favorite of mine, boasts distinctive bottlebrush-like white flowers that grace its branches for two to three weeks starting in early May. Its autumnal transformation sees vibrant gold and orange foliage turn a rich crimson, providing year-round visual interest without the need for pruning.

Joining the lineup of white flowering shrubs are the viburnums, a diverse family offering a range of sizes and blooming periods. Currently in bloom are the fragrant snowball viburnums (Viburnum carlessii and Viburnum carlcephalum), captivating observers with their large, fragrant clusters of white flowers. Subsequent to flowering, varieties like the Korean spice viburnum and fragrant snowball viburnum bear berries and display striking wine-red foliage in fall. Notable lace-cap varieties include the native highbush cranberry viburnum (Viburnum trilobum), featuring white floral clusters and vibrant red berries that persist through winter, attracting avian visitors.

From the diminutive summer snowflake viburnum to the majestic Marie’s doublefile viburnum, the genus offers an array of species and cultivars suitable for various landscapes. Thriving in conditions ranging from full sun to shade, viburnums emerge as exemplary choices for shaded areas, with sizes ranging from compact four-by-four-foot specimens to expansive 10 to 12-foot behemoths.

As you immerse yourself in the natural splendor surrounding us, take a moment to appreciate the delicate beauty of these white flowering plants, adding an enchanting touch to the springtime landscape of Niagara.

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