Second Wind

Several spring flowering shrubs often carry a few blooms in the autumn, especially if the summer has been hot. Roses may also have a second flush before settling down for the winter. But did you know there is a ceanothus that flowers twice? And not in a half-hearted way either, but in a full-blooded look-at-me display.

Ceanothus ‘Gloire de Versailles’ is a deciduous shrub, growing five to six feet tall and wide. Like all the Californian lilacs, it likes a well drained soil and a sunny position, although it seems to grow quite happily on the north side of trellising, behind a greenhouse, in my garden. In July, it carries an abundant display of pale blue flowers.

Ceanothus 'Gloire de Versailles' - 2013

These last around a month, but after taking a break, it does the same thing again in October, continuing until the weather stops it in its tracks. The softer light of autumn makes the blooms appear darker.

Ceanothus 'Gloire de Versailles' (autumn flowering - 2) - 2015

Most ceanothus are not too keen on being pruned, but ‘Gloire de Versailles’ is very amenable to it. In spring, just as new growth starts, shorten each shoot to within one or two buds of the old wood.

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