Viburnum plicatum ‘Mariesii’

I had long lusted after Viburnum plicatum ‘Mariesii’ (lusted might be too strong a word).  I had seen them in parks and open gardens but as VPM is a large shrub – and I only had a little garden – I bided my time.   Then, within months of starting work at The Priory, and with all that space to play in, I finally seized my chance.

viburnum plicatum mariesii


I bought a small, twelve inch plant in 2009 and dug a hole in the lawn.  I can’t find a photo of ‘my’ viburnum prior to the above in May 2012 but in those three years, it tripled in size.

viburnum plicatum mariesii (6)


A year later and it was noticeably larger and gaining height as well as width.

viburnum plicatum mariesii (2)


By last year (its fifth),

viburnum plicatum mariesii (7)

it was clearly visible from a distance.

viburnum plicatum mariesii (3)


And now in May 2015 it is looking rather stately and making quite an impact.

viburnum plicatum mariesii (4)

It is a beautiful shrub, with tiered, layered branches that suggest its common name – the wedding cake bush.  After it has finished flowering, I will carefully prune a few branches to enhance the shape.  I’ll also cut a bigger planting square – the mower sometimes snaps off lower branches.

viburnum plicatum mariesii (5)

It might eventually reach three metres in height and four wide but not for another ten years or so.  I’ve enjoyed its slow-ish growth, development and increasing presence in the garden.  Take your time, Mariesii – I’m in no hurry.


A year after I wrote the above,

Viburnum plicatum ‘Mariesii’ (2)

this is how my V. plicatum ‘Mariesii’ looks in May 2016, its seventh year.

Viburnum plicatum ‘Mariesii’


If I remember, I’ll post a photo next year too.


And in 2017?  Well, I did remember though it is hardly worthwhile.

viburnum plicatum mariesii (2)

A very hard frost in the last days of April killed flowers and buds all over the garden.

viburnum plicatum mariesii (1)


The Mariesii was badly scorched and is not its usual pretty self.  I’ll just hope that 2018 will see it return with a bang rather than a burnt whimper.


And so now to May 2018.   There were no late frosts this year and, unlike last year, no damage to the flowers.

viburnum plicatum mariesii (8)


But a relatively harsh winter – for Sussex – killed off some branches and deer have nibbled others.  The outward spread of my V. plicatum ‘Mariesii’ is less than I had hoped for.

But then us gardeners don’t always get what we wish for.


I left The Priory in August 2018 to move across country to Gloucestershire (see this post, At Last, The Priory).  I’m afraid that there will be no more annual updates on ‘my’ Viburnum plicatum ‘Mariesii’.


43 thoughts on “Viburnum plicatum ‘Mariesii’

  1. Bought one today! Already a good size and full of blooms. She better behave, or there’ll be trouble. I rarely buy on impulse but it’s a real beauty.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve had a glorious VPM in my garden for about 30 years. Over the last couple of years it started looking quite unhappy and a lot of its branches are now dying. I feel so, so sad. Any ideas about why this is happening? What is the life span of a VPL? Any help and ideas would be gratefully received.


    • Hard to say, Geoff without seeing the site but they don’t like full shade. So, far enough forward to catch some rays I would suggest. If it is a shady site, something like Hydrangea petiolaris grown onto the fence might be better?


  3. I’ve just planted one of these in my garden. It says on the ticket it flowers in May. Please post a pic of how yours looks now, height, width and how old it is.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Elizabeth, I’ll post a photo in a few weeks of the shrub in flower – as has become a curious tradition of mine. But to answer your other questions, I planted it out about 9 years ago (as a small one foot or so high plant) and it is now roughly 8 feet across and a little less than 6 feet high. Hope that helps, D


  4. Amazing coincidence. There was I, admiring this very shrub at a garden yesterday, and here you are having written about it. Tis wondrous, though as you say, it does need some space. One for me to admire with envy rather than plant in my own small garden.


    • Yep, it does need space. But in a garden that happily hosts six large weeping willows and a number of huge oaks, there is plenty of room at the Priory. You just need to buy a bigger garden, is all! (btw I didn’t go to Chelsea after all, otherwise I would’ve made contact). Dave


  5. A beautiful exemplar of this lovely shrub. I had one here once, under the Mulberry to give it some shade, that it needed here, but sadly the Mulberry though providing shade also took all the available water so it died. Yours is certainly worth waiting for.


    • I always dread (a bit) planting new trees and shrubs. I know that within a few inches, I’ll be digging into solid, yellow clay – and what to do with it all?! But yep, it is always worth it. Eventually. Dave


  6. I have BlueMuffin and Brandywine varieties here in the southeastern US. I am in South Carolina. I love them but many gardeners in my area do not care for them.


    • Well Robert, I suppose if all gardeners only liked the same plants, then gardens the world over would be terribly similar. And besides, you’re right and they are simply wrong! Dave


  7. We’ve got one of these, natch. Can’t argue with them being lovely shrubs. For a while at least. Ours has decided over many years to go upwards rather than sideways, so it’s a bit of a monster. We probably should have shown it some secatures. Mind you it does have a rather gangly almost aggressive growth as your pics so ably shows. It seems to want to deter having Neighbors. And stand alone shrubs and trees are not very garden amenable. They just want to star. Not team players.


    • It is amenable to very hard pruning, Charles – so I shouldn’t think yours is beyond help. And as Christina says below (her comment is in reply to you but appears in the wrong ‘bit’) I too think gardens have room for stars as well as team players – if the garden is big enough. I don’t suppose an oak tree is a team player but I’m very pleased that we have several at the Priory. So there! Dave


      • I am prostrate. Hang on, I’ve got up again. I am still not convinced about show off plants – or trees- that do not in some way relate to their surroundings. An arboretum is not the same thing as a garden .


        • Sorry Charles, I would have offered you my hand had I known you were down. Hmmm. An arboretum isn’t a garden, it’s true. But in an old garden, which has evolved over centuries, with enormous oaks and ash and what have you, I don’t see that the odd standalone, ‘specimen’ shrub is somehow an aberration. The VPM sits in an area of what was just lawn (of which we have more than enough) and, I think, it and several other trees and shrubs in that particular spot do add to the overall feel of the Priory and do relate to the garden. But I am very happy to agree to disagree. D


    • I think I am, Christina. I’ve put in so many trees and shrubs at the Priory and feel pretty paternal about them all. All that digging out heavy clay, mulching, staking, regular watering through their first year. Difficult not to form an attachment. Dave


  8. My favourite shrub, I have planted 3 ! I found that they are ideal in filling the centre of an island bed, they look beautiful at the moment, but when they have finished flowering other shrubs take over. I too have pruned a few branches over the years, to allow smaller plants in front to be seen. Also of course, they have wonderful autumn colour, what is not to like!!


    • Hi Pauline, glad I’m not alone. There are another two at the Priory, actually. One is in a border and need regular trimming to stop it blocking a path and the other, I have trained as a standard (I didn’t know what it was when I took it out of a garden where it wasn’t wanted). The latter looks pretty good at the moment – I’ll try to remember to post a photo. Dave


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