The Best Season Ever: Weeping Pea Shrub in February, then May

Caragana arborescens Walker 020616 640


One of the best looks in a Winter garden is during and following a blizzard—at least for the plants that are able to wear a mantle of snow with style. The strong, rigid branches of weeping peashrub are particularly attractive then, because they weep stiffly downward and are evenly distributed around the trunk: No matter how heavy the load, it stays centered and stable.


The look is muscular, claw-like, and impervious to any stress of cold or wind, or the weight of heavy snow or thick ice. That's how tough and durable this tree actually is. All the more surprising, then, is how frilly and flouncy it will appear after the foliage emerges in Spring.


Below, this Caragana arborescens 'Walker' in late May two years ago. The sun was warm and the season's new crop of foliage was making the most of it.


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The yellow flowers are profuse but they aren't large enough to compete with the ultra-slender leaflets of the foliage. Look again at the picture above, and you'll be able—just—to see the flowers. If they register at all from any distance, it is as gold flecks amid the leaves: soft highlights to the cascading tresses, if you will.


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Here's how to grow this quirky and oh-so-hardy shrub, as well as more pictures of it in the teeth of Winter several years ago: craggy, leafless, and encrusted with snow.

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