Over the weekend I planted a soon to be released introduction, a doghobble (Leucothoe axillaris ‘SR2020’, Bohemian Beauty, below) despite overnight temperatures expected to drop into the low twenties and the plant’s recent home in a nursery just outside Mobile, Alabama. I admit to never calling leucothoe by its common name, doghobble, except to entertain visitors to the garden with this curious moniker. Leucothoe is quite cold hardy, so I have no concern about its sudden transition from the deep to the upper south, though I question if the weather of northern parts of Virginia should be declared as part of the south, or the lower north.
While visiting the PDSI (Plant Development Services, Inc.) nursery early in November I did not declare my infatuation with leucothoe, but a curiosity that this introduction appeared superior to cultivars currently available, and if Bohemian Beauty, with thicker than typical leaves and a compact form, could be an improvement. I have trialed various introductions over the years, with enough disappointments to be skeptical of every “new and improved” selection.
The commonly available varieties of leucothoe could use a bit of improvement. Both green leafed and variegated types are prone to leaf disfigurations, and while arching branches might be termed “graceful”, the shrub would be improved by a more compact form. Three leucothoe in this garden, Rainbow (Leucothoe fontanesiana ‘Rainbow’, above), variegated Coast leucothoe (Leucothoe axillaris ‘Variegata’, below), and ‘Curly Red’ (Leucothoe axillaris ‘Curly Red’, below) grow without a hitch in part shade, but I’ve too often seen diseased foliage in other gardens.
With previous plantings I’m confident that Bohemian Beauty will tolerate the garden’s clay soil and the dampness of the lower, rear garden where too many others have failed. Its expected compact form encouraged planting in close proximity to a stone path, so a few years of growth will verify this habit or not, and here the variegated foliage can be regularly appreciated.
Certainly, if shopping in the garden center I would not have chosen to purchase another leucothoe, but I’m happy to give this introduction a try.