Spirea Anthony Waterer
Botanical name: Spiraea x bumalda
Family: Rosaceae (Rose)
Origin: Northern Hemisphere
Display period: Late June
Height: 2 to 4 feet
Each time I looked at my spirea Anthony Waterer -- which waquite often when it was in bloom -- my self-esteem soared. From a small piece of root I acquired at a plant auction 35 years ago, I produced, with no special effort, a 4-foot-tall by 5-foot-wide shrub.
The deep rose blossoms that cover the plant when it's in bloom -- at a time when most other blooming shrubs have called it a day -- make nice filler in a flower arrangement. And although it produces its greatest show all at once, the plant continues to put out occasional blossoms through much of the summer. The normally green foliage, too, is apt to send up wayward sprigs of yellow or variegated leaves, adding interest to the shrub's character.
Spirea Anthony Waterer (in the common-name form, spirea is spelled without the extra "a" that the generic name carries) is said to be one of the most widely planted of all the summer-blooming spireas. Bridal wreath (S. prunifolia), an earlier blooming white species of the same genus, enjoys the same popularity in spring.
A spirea's flowering period determines its time of pruning. The early bloomers are thinned of old wood (rather than cut back) right after blossoming. The summer bloomers, if shortened at all -- for unless the quality and number of flower clusters need
improving, pruning is not necessary -- are clipped before shrubs leaf out.
Because they remain relatively immune to polluted air, spireas make fine plants for city gardens. And while they'll adjust to most any soil, they perform best in a moist, rich loam, although not one that stays wet.
Spiraea's name derives from speiraira, the Greek term for a plant with flexible branches that was used in making garlands. Anthony Waterer, a nurseryman, developed the hybrid named for him from a sport of the regular species.