WHAT’S THAT BIG SHRUBBY PEAR YOU GROW?” people ask when walking through the garden in August onward. That “big, shrubby pear” is no pear at all, but perhaps my favorite shrub, the bottlebrush buckeye, or Aesculus parviflora. And those are its balloon-like seedpods, despite the resemblance to small pears.
If you have a spot for a big shrub (my oldest of four or five here is more than 15 feet across and maybe 12 feet high) perhaps you want to adopt one? In the North, bottlebrush buckeye will do in either sun or shade, but they really sucker up nicely in semi-shade or shade, making a July splash with creamy wand-like flowers. The handsome foliage goes gold in fall.
The full story on how I almost lost my beloved first-born bottlebrush buckeye is here (and probably in the photo links below, too). Miraculously, in just two years it has already regained half of its lost bits, and growing strong–even if it doesn’t yield any pears.