Magic Carpet Spirea
"This spring as it comes bursts up in bonfires green,
Wild puffing of emerald trees, & flame-filled bushes."
-David Herbert Lawrence
The leaves of 'Magic Carpet' Spirea are so colorfully bright yellow with red tips & copper highlights, it's as though it were in bloom from late March or April all the way into autumn.
It holds its color more firmly than similar, earlier cultivars such as 'Gold Flame.' The yellow may turn yellow-green during summer but always some red remains; then it all turns gorgeously russet for autumn.
It was bred by David Tristram of Walberton Nursery in West Sussex. Tristram has also developed popular new pinflowers, coreopsis, crocosmia, gaura, & several other cultivars.
Although this Award of Garden Merit variety is registered as 'Walbuma' (a contraction of 'Walburton's Bumalda'), it has come to be marketed under the catchier trademark name 'Magic Carpet.'
The species Spiraea japonica is considerably larger than this cultivar, as 'Magic Carpet' is a dwarf at only two to three feet high (larger than the advertised eighteen inches tall, but nevertheless a small spirea). It easily grows to a full two-foot spread. They make a splendid mid-garden or border groundcover, but are also showy as little specimen shrubs.
Its spring & summer flowers are bright pink racemes that compete effectively with its own colorful foliage. With deadheading it can rebloom into autumn.
Though deciduous, it keeps its leaves long into autumn. It wants full sun but tolerates a bit of shade. It likes moist well-drained soil but once established will even do well on droughty slopes.
It can benefit by an annual late-winter or early-spring sheering, cutting it back by as much as one-third. An early summer deadheading of the browning flowers nearly always induces a second solid flourish of bloom, & even without deadheading there will be a few occasional flowers appearing right up until autumn.
It is hardy down to zone 4, but at the colder end of its tolerances it may not provide an autumn rebloom & may wait until mid-summer for its one flowering.
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