Every garden relies on what we often call ‘workhorse shrubs’. These need to be tough, reliable, problem-free, and easy to grow. But that doesn’t mean they have to be boring. The very best of these durable plants will also be colorful and interesting, adding something truly attractive to our gardens, without burdening us with extra work. Especially in larger gardens it is important to fill substantial parts of the garden with these workhorses, so that the limited time we have can be devoted to the extra-special plants that lift a garden from ordinary to outstanding. There is no doubt that for warm to hot zones, the Abelia is an outstanding workhorse plant, and if you need a compact flowering evergreen for beds, borders and edging, look no further than the Rose Creek Abelia – it’s a winner.
The Rose Creek Abelia is a rounded, dense shrub, growing no more than 2 or 3 feet tall, and spreading 3 or 4 feet wide. It really fills spaces, and just a few will cover a large space with beauty, while their density excludes weeds and hides the soils. The crowded stems are red, covered with round-oval leaves the size of buttons. These emerge in spring, and on new growth, tinted pink, and turn to a rich, glossy deep green by early summer. That healthy color persists into fall, before turning interesting tones of purple-green as the colder nights arrive. In zones 7 to 9 it is fully evergreen, and in zone 6 it will shed some leaves, becoming semi-deciduous is the temperatures fall low enough.
By late spring the Rose Creek Abelia will be in bloom. Every stem ends in a cluster of buds, which open into fragrant white flowers about ½ inch long. These are trumpet-shaped, forming a flared tube opening into 5 flattened petals. The blooming season is long, since the flowers open in succession over weeks, well into summer and they continue through summer and into fall with a few blooms. The flowers have pronounced sepals – the petal-like structure surrounding the base of the flower – and these are rosy-pink. They are colorful before the buds emerge, they make a lovely contrast to the bright-white flowers as they open, and they persist for weeks after the flowers are gone, adding their color to the beauty of this shrub.
The Rose Creek Abelia is the ideal garden shrub for filling spaces in the front of beds, or the middle of smaller beds. It can be planted 3 feet apart to make a continuous edging for a bed, or to fill areas between taller shrubs or evergreens. Use it along a driveway or beside a path. Fill planter boxes with it, for easy bordering and privacy on a balcony or terrace. Wherever you need spaces filled with beautiful, ‘no trouble’ plants, this is your #1 choice. It is also great in a cottage garden, mixed with flowers and ornamental grasses – in fact, wherever you grow it you will love it.
Grow the Rose Creek Abelia in full sun or partial shade, with the most flowering seen on plants in full sun. It grows best in moist, well-drained soil, although plants have good drought tolerance once established, and pass unharmed through hot, dry spells. Moist and rich soil will produce the lushest growth and most flowers. This plant is very easy to grow, thriving almost anywhere, and needing no special care at all. Pests and diseases almost never cause problems. In colder zones the stems may be killed back by the winter, but it quickly re-establishes itself, and since flowers form on new shoots, it will still bloom magnificently. Removing older twiggy stems and pruning the rest back by one-third in late winter or early spring will keep your plants bushy, attractive and blooming profusely.
The Rose Creek Abelia was found in a trial of Abelia plants at the Center for Applied Nursery Research in Dearing, Georgia, part of the University of Georgia. In 1997 they planted together 12 different types of Abelia plants being grown in gardens. These included forms of Abelia chinensis, and several varieties of Abelia x grandiflora, a hybrid of Abelia chinensis and Abelia uniflora. There are around 30 species of Abelia, found from Mexico to Korea, and many are attractive garden plants. They allowed the bees to do their work, and collected all the seeds, which would have been a hybrid mixture. 32 of the seedlings were selected for further evaluation, and among them was a small, compact plant that caught everyone’s eye. It was originally simply ‘seedling #12’, but it was named by Mark Griffith as ‘Rose Creek’, after a stream of that name in Oconee County, Georgia. This great garden plant has quickly become a reliable shrub that should be in every warm garden. Order yours right away, as our stock will quickly be gone.