RIP, Pink Dawn Viburnum


Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Pink Dawn’

Fare thee well, large shrub/small tree. I barely knew ye.

And though hardly reminiscent of a daybreak seeped in glorious pink light, I did enjoy those three small blooms that graced your lanky young branches back from around April 5 to about April 14 or so. They were just swell.

In summer, your deep green creased leaves and reddish stems were a joy to behold; your slow, excruciating death, as stem by stem you succumbed to some sort of aggressive soil-borne pathogen, causing me to cringe a little whenever I looked outside and saw your leaves drooping with such woe, and curse the fact that, not only was my $34.99 going down the tubes, but that now the visual balance of my poolside garden bed was totally blown, was not as joyful.

Little plant, I know you will enjoy your time at the county compost pile as you fester under piles of other people’s organic trash complete the cycle of life.


25 thoughts on “RIP, Pink Dawn Viburnum

  1. Oh my! How did one manage to kill a Pink Dawn? It’s one of my favorites! Just like a weeping willow, drop it in the ground, water it in, and say grow baby, grow! Takes flood conditions and droughts wonderfully. Truly am sorry it bit the dust for you. I’d try again just to have it!

      • Fear not! It WILL live and reward you with those gorgeous, fragrant flowers and fill in like the weed that is it so fast you won’t know what happened. Wonderful underused hedge plant. In fact, I think I need to acquire one for myself this week. Thanks for the suggestion!

  2. I have a wonderful white rhodie that has slowly succumbed to a mystery illness this summer after 15+ glorious years….slow deaths are so hard! RIP indeed…..

  3. Mary – Your post reminds me every fall at this time I loose yet another PJM rhodie. I’ve planted 6 so far. Each plant blooms in the spring, thrives all summer, the leaves turn red in the fall and then when the weather cools down, the leaves shrivel up and they die. I may try 3 more, just for science sake. If these don’t make it, I’ll be forced to put in something pedestrian, like Otto Luyken. All suggestions on keeping my PJMs alive welcome. Poem/haiku forthcoming.

    • What conditions are the plants put in? Sun, shade? Soil – good or indifferent drainage? Soil texture? Watering? Need specifics to figure the mystery out. Never had a problem with PJM since I bought my first one when they initially came out on the market. They’re so carefree! And really pretty in bloom, and the winter color and texture – I get carried away with plants that I like. This is one of them.

    • You have more faith than me. I seem to strike out with a lot of plants that require acid soil….I’ve lost aucuba, pieris, laurel, and camellia by the same branch-at a-time type of death. My best guess is verticillium wilt, but I also have my black walnut issue so I don’t know how that plays into it. Of the plants I’ve lost, the only one I’m tempted to try again is camellia…I refuse to believe I can’t have one!

        • Hate to say, but that’s just too close. And all those glorious plants you want, including your camellia, don’t like black walnut poisons. Could always try growing some of the things you really want in pots – keeping the pots away from the tree so the leaves don’t fall into them.

  4. Have never tried ‘pink dawn’ but have plenty of shrubs die on me. Here’s a tip: plant in fall, this allows for maximum denial time after the plant has died. Also maximizes the chance that you can sneak out in early spring and remove deceased shrub and replace it with a new one before one’s spouse notices.

  5. How sad. You are making me feel guilty about the Dawn Viburnum I planted just this summer, which is growing rampantly, is too close to the house and already climbing in the dining room window and needs some discipline. Mine could use a little restraint — yours could have used some of my Dawn’s gangly exuberance. (I do wonder if those walnuts are poisoning your soil well beyond where you even think their roots are. You have such a long list of casualties, and the viburnum in particular is normally an easy grower.)

  6. I’ve lost several Viburnums but my ‘Pink Dawn’ lives and thrives, despite me. It’s in part sun and I try to water it regularly. I wasn’t so careful with my other ones to my own regret. I hope you find something even better for a fraction of the price.

  7. I’m sorry to say this, Mary, but give it up. There is a loooong list of things that won’t grow anywhere near a black walnut. My house came with a big one, too. I’m sure there are plants you’d love to grow but can’t because they’re not hardy enough. This is the same kind of thing. Mother nature always wins in the long run. Fighting her is just an exercise in futility and frustration. Why waste time and money on doomed plants? Google for juglone tolerant plants and learn to love them.

    • I really don’t think the walnut is to blame in this case. I’m not positive, but it seems to me that my juglone sensitive plants become stunted and simply don’t thrive. This viburnum died branch by branch, much like a plant dies from Verticillium wilt. Could be I’m just in denial, though!

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