This summer convinced me that everyone should have a ninebark (Physocarpus) in their garden. The native ninebark shrub that I planted about three years ago has suddenly matured this summer into a gracefully mounding form, about shoulder high, with white flowers almost dripping from its branches, offering nectar to a multitude of pollinators.
It’ll take me a while to identify them all. Pollinators aren’t just bees: they come in many forms, including bats and moths as well as many different kinds of flies. A gorgeous butterfly—that I identified as a white admiral—flitted from flower to flower, completely ignoring me, until my camera got a little too close. I also studied a curious long-bodied insect with an orange head, blue body and dark wings that I found was a yellow-collared scape moth. A shrub like this could get someone seriously interested in entomology.
Yes, my ninebark brings all the insects to the yard. And they’re like, it’s better than yours. Darn right! …because I have ninebarks!
The link above takes you to a wonderful blog, The Web of Life, with massive amounts of information from a biologist, Beatriz Moisset, on our helpful garden creatures, the pollinators.
The native ninebark is a standout, but there are also ninebark cultivars like dramatically dark ‘Diablo’, with deep, bronze leaves, and a yellow formed variety, ‘Luteus’ and ‘Dart’s Gold’. They all have flowers that pollinators love, are drought tolerant, and very hardy. Diablo branches make an elegant addition to a late summer bouquet, after the flowers fade, and dark seed clusters form. Birds love the seeds as well. Ninebark is definitely a must have, and one of the easiest shrubs you can add to your garden.