Itea virginica ' Henry's Garnet '
Virginia Sweetspire
 
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Family: Saxifrage family (Saxifragaceae)
Native Habitat: N.J. to Florida, west to Missouri and Texas

Virginia Sweetspire is a terrific little shrub native to swamps and moist areas along wooded streams in the southern and southeastern states. Even though it is largely confined to shady and wet areas in nature, in the garden it thrives just as well in full sun and in soils of medium moisture.

Flowers and fall color are two traits that really stand out with this shrub. Pure-white, pearl-like buds begin to form on drooping racemes in early summer. Even if the buds never opened, the racemes would be ornamental in their own right. Within several weeks they do open to lightly-fragrant, small, white flowers. The flower clusters last for several weeks. The medium-green foliage looks fresh all summer, never disfigured by insects or diseases. But as far as foliage goes, the real show begins in early autumn. Leaves begin to take on a slight reddish tint. Gradually, over a period of several weeks, the leaves continue to take on color and soon have become a glorious burgundy-red. These leaves, in all their fall glory, hold on the plant for many weeks. It is not until late autumn that the leaves do fall.

'Henry's Garnet' is an impressive selection from the campus of Swarthmore College. It was selected for it's long flower panicles (up to 6 in. long) and its superior fall color. We think this is the best selection of Sweetspire available in the trade.

Ornamental Characteristics:
Pearl shaped pure-white buds give way to drooping racemes of small white flowers in early to mid-summer. Flowers are lightly fragrant. Outstanding and long-lasting burgundy-red fall color. Fall color may persist for nearly two months.
Habit & Growth Rate:
Deciduous to semi-evergreen shrub. 3 to 4 ft. tall. Slowly spreading to 5 or 6 ft. Medium growth rate.
Landscape Uses: Shrub border, masses, foundation plantings.
Hardiness: Zone 5 to 9
Culture:
Full sun to part shade. Medium to wet soils. Easy and adaptable.
Awards: Recommended Highly, Ohio Nursery & Landscape Assoc.
Gold Medal Plant Award, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society