Reader garden featuring Cotoneaster bullatus
Andrea Bellamy |

I got the most wonderful e-mail from a reader in Victoria the other day. (Victoria is southeast of Vancouver, across the Straight of Georgia. I think that when gardeners die they go to Victoria; it’s a very mild Zone 9, and a lovely city to garden and live in.)


Anyway. Pat wrote in response to my post asking for planting suggestions for what is becoming known as “that wall” to suggest Cotoneaster bullatus (shown above). Not only did Pat have a great foundation-planting suggestion; she even provided photos and companion planting ideas. What could be better? Pat’s written such detailed descriptions and suggestions that I’m just going to paste her advice in here to share with you all. She writes:

I think what you need for your wall is not a vine but two Cotoneaster bullatus. C. bullatus is a marvelous deciduous cotoneaster, quite elegant and structured compared with its evergreen relatives. I think it would be fabulous on your wall — very architectural, especially if you use a trellis and do some annual shaping and tying to restrain its outward growth so it’s more like an espalier but not as formal or spare. That’s what I’ve done with mine and it is one of my favourite shrubs in the garden.


It offers four seasons of interest, with tender coppery-green leaves and white flowers in mid-spring, darker green leaves (with a slight bluish tone) in the summer, and red berries for about three months in the fall. In the fall, the leaves turn into lovely mottled colours ranging from yellow and pale green to scarlet and glaucus blue-green.

It has lovely vase-shaped branching structure but can be pruned and tied to spread against a wall — something more informal than espalier, but the idea is the same . It will get quite high too, which is good; or you can restrain its height. Mine is thriving in afternoon shade with even moisture, and looks superb year round with some companion plantings at its feet.


In the above photo, C. bullatus is the tall bare-branched bush against the fence to the right of the cherry tree.


In front of C. bullatus, I would plant a medium sized blue-leaved hosta such as “Blue Umbrellas” (or “Halcyon”), along with some painted Japanese ferns and two or three Hemerocallis “Flasher.” Also some Helleborus orientalis “purpurea” for early season interest.


A word about Hemerocallis ‘Flasher’: it’s a spectacular dark orange daylily that is a real prima donna — and the “heavy metal” of the hemerocallis family. It needs to be away from other daylilies because its height, colour and abundance makes other daylilies look sick and weedy. Within a couple of years, one Flasher will yield over 100 mildly fragrant blooms over a five-week period. It blooms when C. bullatus is at its quietest, and the dark green leaves of C. bullatus are a good foil for the orange blossoms. Flasher also looks fabulous with sword fern and purple heuchera thrown into the mix, too.

Pat Weldon

Thanks so much for the advice, and for sharing your gorgeous garden with Heavy Petal readers, Pat.

(Top photo from Le Blogue Jardin.)

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