By Gary Wade
University of Georgia
Since their release in 2001 and 2002, respectively, these plants have earned the admiration of nurserymen, landscapers and gardeners nationwide. They were chosen from a large field of strong contenders for a coveted Georgia Gold Medal Award in 2005.
Rose Creek and Canyon Creek abelias are seedling selections of Chinese abelia (Abelia chinense). They were open-pollinated with other abelia cultivars, so their exact parentage is unknown.
Rose CreekRose Creek was selected for its low mounding growth habit, crimson stem color, fragrant white flowers and exceptionally long bloom period (May to frost).
The plant grows 2 to 3 feet tall and 3 to 4 feet wide. It's an excellent choice for foundation plantings, containers or low-growing hedges.
Rose Creek has evergreen leaves that emerge with a pinkish cast, turn a lustrous, dark green in summer and then darken to purple-green in winter, giving the plant an ever-changing seasonal interest.
It bears cluster after cluster of white, fragrant, tubular flowers, about a half-inch long, throughout the growing season. Below each flower are small, light pink, modified leaves, called the calyx, which remain on the plant after the flowers fade and provide even more pizzazz to the floral display.
Canyon CreekCanyon Creek abelia is larger than Rose Creek, growing 4 to 6 feet tall and wide. It's a great hedging plant and is ideal choice for a mixed perennial border. New leaves emerge with a coppery pink cast that mellows to a soft yellow, then green, then rosy bronze in winter.
Flowers are fragrant, tubular, light pink and are borne in clusters from May until frost. The flowers are surrounded at their base by a star-shaped, reddish pink calyx that persists long after the flowers drop, so the plant appears to have two flower forms present at the same time all season.
Both abelias are drought-tolerant, deer-resistant and hardy from zones 6 to 9. They grow well in full sun to partial shade. And pests seldom bother them. They're highly attractive to butterflies and bees, too.
They may require some light pruning from time to time to remove lanky shoots. Otherwise, both plants look their best when allowed to develop a natural, informal look.
(Gary Wade is an Extension Service horticulturist with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)