This lovely shrub is seldom seen in landscapes but deserves much wider appreciation in all seasons. In the stark winter season Japanese Clethra adds warm notes of copper and cinnamon to the landscape through its smooth, sensuous bark. Unlike our native Sweet Pepperbsuh (Clethra alnifolia) which forms a shrubby thicket, the Japanese Clethra forms a large shrub or small tree up to 20’ tall. In summer it is clothed in rich green foliage which forms the perfect backdrop for clusters of creamy white flowers which open in July and August. These flowers, held in drooping racemes at the tips of the branches, are lightly fragrant and attractive to a variety of pollinators. In autumn the foliage turns vibrant shades of red, orange, yellow and burgundy adding yet another season of pleasure. Hailing from Japan and Korea this exceptional shrub is hardy to zone 5 and prefers a good garden in soil in full sun or partial shade.
Image © H. Kolster