I’m a pushover for fragrance. So one whiff of Carolina allspice (Calycanthus floridus) will tell you why it’s my favourite compact shrub. Hailing from the southeastern U.S. and native to moist woodlands, it’s also known as sweet shrub, strawberry shrub and bubby blossom. Its flowers, leaves, bark, twigs and roots have a delightful, fruity scent—redolent of strawberry, pineapple and banana. The shrub’s interesting, filament-like, maroon-red blooms are most fragrant on a summer’s evening. Plant it near a seating area and let the scent gently wash over you.
I also like plants with an easy-going nature, and Carolina allspice fits the bill. It grows slowly—reaching some 2.5 metres in height with a slightly greater spread—to form neat, suckering mounds. When grown in sun or partial shade, this shrub withstands city conditions, tolerates many soil types and is virtually pest-free. Plants grown from seed are often not fragrant, though, so purchase a shrub at the nursery. And then take a deep, appreciative sniff. Zone 5
Photo courtesy of Phyzome