The genus Caryopteris combines some species of shrubs of Asian origin, the most widely cultivated species in the garden is actually a spontaneous hybrid, which originated in Europe in a botanical garden: Caryopteris x clandonensis; of this variety there are further hybrids, selected for the color of the flowers.
It is a beautiful bush of easy cultivation, the measurements are small, and generally it remains below two meters in height. It has thin, branched, often arched, woody stems, which bear small oval leaves, covered with a thin hair that makes them gray-green. The foliage is often aromatic, and gives off a delicate fragrance when it is rubbed between the fingers.
THE caryopteris they have deciduous leaves, so they remain completely bare throughout the winter; generally they are among the last shrubs to produce foliage in late spring; towards the end of the summer they begin to produce sky-blue flower buds; hybrid varieties produce purple, dark blue or white flowers.
Caryopteris flowers bloom at the leaf axil along all the stems, and fill the shrub with small buds, with a beautiful scenic effect; the flowers are produced All around the stem, to create a sort of small crown.
These shrubs are definitely suited to the mixed edge, given the rather messy appearance they take over the years.
A shrub of easy cultivation
The general appearance of an adult specimen is not particularly striking when the plant is not in bloom, this in fact often makes it a shrub not particularly coveted in the garden, also because when more generally one goes to the nursery to choose the new plants for the garden is spring, and therefore i caryopteris they are often still without leaves.
The ease of cultivation and autumn flowering should however make the caryopteris one of the plants to have absolutely in the garden, one of those for which we simply choose a corner and forget it until the following autumn, when we will enjoy the flowers.
In fact they are plants with few requirements, resistant to intense heat, winter frost and even drought.
They are grown in a possibly sunny area, but they also easily bear a little shade; they do not need a particular soil, but it is always better to work the garden soil well, adding fresh soil, especially if the flowerbed in which we will place our shrub has not been worked for a long time; add a little sand to the soil, to make it well permeable, and a slow release granular fertilizer, which will guarantee the right amount of mineral salts over the months.
As we said before, these plants that have been dwelling for a long time also bear drought well, and generally tend to be satisfied with the weather; a young plant that has recently settled but has yet to sink its roots into the ground, so it is good to water it, especially in the case of prolonged drought: we supply water only when the ground is well dry, the caryopteris do not like stagnant water and the ground always damp.
These shrubs do not fear the cold, and can also withstand intense and prolonged frosts; it may happen that in particular cases the outermost branches are ruined by frost and unraveling.In fact, over time these plants tend to become very messy and not very decorative, often "emptying" in the lower part.For this reason, and also to remedy any frost burns, in spring, as soon as our caryopteris begins to sprout, we will prune the shrub vigorously, shortening all the branches until it almost reaches the old wood (we leave about 5-10 cm of new wood) and removing any weak or damaged branches from frost.The first leaves of caryopteris often go unnoticed, it is early spring, most of the plants are still gray, the climate is often rainy: the small greyish buds are not seen on the winter bark; for this reason rather than waiting to notice the shoots, to prune the plant we choose a period of early spring, when the climate is already quite mild, approaching our shrub we will notice the small leaves.The mixed edge
The mixed edge is an element that we have "copied" from the English gardens; in the typical gardens of English cottages, in contrast with the rigidly designed gardens of great noble properties, the English gardener indulges himself to make his garden seem as natural as possible, as if the plants that are infesting his garden are by chance in perfect harmony and with beautiful flowers.
The caryopteris adapt perfectly to the mixed edge, especially for gardeners who do not have the opportunity to dedicate too many hours of their day to the garden; the habit, so messy and "natural", the flowering in autumn, when most of the shrubs are already waiting for winter, the ease of cultivation.
All these elements make the caryopteris a perfect element to be planted in a mixed border, the dimensions are not huge, making it ideal also for medium-sized or small gardens: let's position it on the bottom, to serve as background to some tall perennials , like lupins or columbines, the gray-green foliage will enhance the color of the flowers, and the flowering of the shrub will act as a decoration when perennials have already stopped flowering.