In season: Ceanothus

This ornamental shrub makes a breathtaking display in the spring garden

Who can resist the billowing deep blue flowers of Ceanothus during springtime? Despite its delicate petals it’s actually a member of the hardy buckthorn family and, in its native habitat, able to thrive in poor, dry soils.

Whilst known for its fabulous blues, it also flowers in white, pale pink and deep purple. At Eccleston Square in west London more than 50 types of Ceanothus are grown. Although the garden is private it holds open days allowing the public to view the blooms. These include 8 May under the National Gardens Scheme and 19 June as part of the Open Garden Squares Weekend.

How to grow and care for Ceanothus

  • In our cooler climate, Ceanothus needs a sheltered position in full sun to thrive. Well-drained, fertile soil is best. While the plants can cope with dry, thin soils, foilage may become pale and yellow on very shallow soil over chalk.
  • Hardiness varies but most varieties become hardy once established in a warm, sheltered spot.
  • Evergreen cultivars do not need pruning except to keep within bounds; deciduous types are best pruned in early spring to promote strong growth.
  • Ceanothus is a fast-growing and short-lived. Plants do not respond well to rejuvenation pruning and are best replaced once they start to decline..

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