Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Dictamnus albus var. purpureus

Dictamnus albus var. purpureus blooming now in my front border with alliums

Wider view of Dictamnus in front border
     One of the great things about gardening is that you never really know everything there is to know about growing plants, even if you think you do.  Early in my gardening career I read about Dictamnus albus var. purpureus, also known as the pink burning bush, and I had briefly grown it then.  But back in the day it had not impressed me, probably because I never let it get big enough to perform well and because I hadn't put it in the right place.  Then a few years ago I was visiting Dancing Oaks Nursery, which I wrote about here, and they had one of these gas plants growing in their garden and I thought it was beautiful.  Then they told me it was drought tolerant, and I was hooked.
     So when I found some well grown plants of this in a local nursery I snapped them up and planted them in my front border.  They have done well there, without any supplemental summer water and in an area frequented by deer.  They just keep getting better from year to year.
     As you can see from the pictures, the plants have handsome foliage which stays nice looking all year long until they die down for the winter.  As I was working around them recently, I noticed that they had a wonderful citrus like odor. 
     They are commonly called burning bush because they give off essential oils which, it is said, will ignite if you hold a match to the base of the inflorescence, making a gassy noise and emitting a delicious aroma (or so says Christopher Lloyd in his book Garden Flowers). I have never tried this.
     By the way, Christopher Lloyd describes this plant as "one of the most handsome and distinctive hardy perennials in the repertory".   I would have to agree.


  1. I just bought this because of your post. Thanks!

  2. Hi, Linda, I would love to know where the nursery is where you found the dictamus. I live close to you (in Port Townsend), and I would love to add some of this to my garden. Thanks. (marimuseinpt@gmail.com)