Common name: Spirea Mellow Yellow
Botanical name: Spireae thunbergii ‘Ogon’
What it is: A low-maintenance, multi-season flowering shrub that has arching stems lined with small white flowers in early spring, then willowy yellow foliage in summer, then orange/russet fall foliage.
Size: 4 to 5 feet tall and wide
Where to use: Foundation beds or mixed gardens to add exclamation points of showy color and texture. Also useful around a water garden or massed on a sunny or even partly shaded bank. Full sun to part shade.
Why I like it: Great texture and great color together on this season-long beauty that was brought to market by York County’s own Barry Yinger (local plant-hunter extraordinaire). This is a loose-form plant, so if you like your plants beaten into submissive balls, Mellow Yellow is not your plant. The show starts out with dainty snow-white flowers in early April that run all along the flowing stems. It’s nearly covered in white. As peak bloom hits, the narrow, yellow and almost needle-looking leaves emerge. By the time the flowers fade and fall (no mess there, by the way), the plant has fully leafed out into its golden willowy summer form.
It looks great even in the heat of summer, then turns a russet color in fall and is slow to drop the leaves into winter. No bugs or disease that I’ve seen, very drought-tolerant and needs little to no pruning (assuming you’ve given it 5 or 6 feet of space). Otherwise, one light post-bloom trim will do it for maintenance for the whole year.