Posts Tagged ‘euonymus alatus compacta’


Sidewalk sadness

I walked by this narrow raised planter on E. 17th Street the other day and was shocked by the missed opportunity for creating curb appeal for the building. After all, first impressions go a long way! Needless to say, the scattered garbage, orphan Hostas and overgrown weeds aren’t doing any favors to define the value of this real estate.

It wouldn’t take much to spruce this planter up and give residents and passersby something to smile at. Check out some plant ideas below for easy ways to overhaul this planting.

Pieris japonica is a broadleaf evergreen shrub with dark green glossy leaves (bronze color when young) that produces white flowers in spring. It is relatively slow-growing but can reach a height of 6-8′ tall. A bonus is the flowers carry a sweet fragrance which can help mask various odors sometimes present on NYC streets.

Pieris japonica

Pieris japonica

Adding Euonymus alatus (common name: Burning Bush) which has bright red autumnal foliage, could increase visual interest and add a pop of color. Euonymus ‘Compactus’ may be a better suited cultivar for smaller sites since it does not grow as large as the straight species.


Euonymous alatus with Stunning Fall Color

Viburnum plicatum, commonly referred to as Doublefile Viburnum,  is a great shrub which can grow to 8-10′ tall. Deciduous, dark green leaves turn reddish-purple in the autumn while large white flowers cover the plant in late spring/early summer.


Viburnum plicatum with Spring Flowers

Utilize evergreens towards the back of the planter to add green year round and provide a solid foundation for the planting. Think Ilex, Taxus or Buxus. Junipers love sunnier locations and stand up to the abuse that sidewalks dish out.

Once the larger shrubs are in place, add some smaller perennials in the middle section such as: Anemone (spring flowers), Astilbe (blooms in summer/fall depending on cultivar), Spiraea (blooms in summer) and ferns (Ostrich and Painted Ferns are nice varieties) which leaf out in early summer.


Astilbe in Full Bloom

Don’t forget to leave some open pockets towards the front of the planting area for seasonal annuals. Spring bulbs such as Tulips, Daffodils or Snowdrops could be planted in the late Fall in the same area that the annuals are planted in. With a little sweat and a few tears (hopefully of joy) this planter could go from neglected to stunning in no time.

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Jeffrey Erb Landscape Design

Fall Color of the Burning Bush.

Euonymus alatus ‘Compacta’, also known as Burning Bush, creates a show-stopping fall foliage display painted in fire engine red.  It is extremely prevalent in commercial landscapes, but it holds its own in a residential garden when planted in clusters or hedges.

Jeffrey Erb Landscape Design

Burning Bush Hedge.

One of the best uses for Euonymus in a private garden is as a formal hedge.  Burning Bush is a fast grower and is reminiscent in texture to Boxwood but with larger, deciduous leaves.  Euonymus does not have any major ornamental characteristics in spring or summer.  However, fall brings out a fabulous burst of flaming red that is nothing short of magnificent.

Jeffrey Erb Landscape Design

Berries and Bark of the Burning Bush.

Winter interest includes bright red-orange berries and “winged” bark with ridges which makes Euonymus easy to identify.  Newer growth is a lighter green while old wood is brown. Cut branches of the new growth with berries can be used in floral arrangements during the winter.  Flowers are hidden in the spring/early summer and are very small and pale green in color.

They are easy to prune, though if untrimmed, Burning Bush grows to be about 10′ tall  and equally as wide. They are extremely tolerant of soil conditions and prefer full sun, but can handle some shade.  The less sun, the more leggy this shrub will get.  Fall color is also affected by sun exposure and will be more of a pink shade (less sun) rather than vibrant red (more sun). It is hardy to zones 4-8 and can handle urban stress situations.  Several pests and diseases are common so keep an eye out for scale, cankers, and nutritional deficiencies.

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