Viburnum x bodnantense 'Dawn' Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’
(vie-BUR-num x bod-nan-TEN-see)
Family: Adoxaceae

Common name: viburnum
Zone: 5 – 7
Height: 8 – 10 ft (2.4-3 m) Spread: 4 – 6 ft (1.2-1.8 m)
Aspect: full sun; part shade
Soil: moist; well-drained; acid
Water: moderate

Description: A medium tall, deciduous shrub with an upright, fairly narrow, multi-stemmed growth habit. Rosy-pink flowers are decorated with purple-pink anthers. Flowers appear on naked stems, before the leaves appear. Here in the Pacific Northwest, the bloom time is from late autumn through until early spring. In colder climates, Zone 6 and colder, bloom time is delayed until late winter. Towards the end of the bloom period, bronze-tinted, toothed, narrowly ovate leaves begin to appear. They will mature to a deep green colour as spring progresses. Come autumn, the leaves will begin to turn a delightful range of burgundy and red. The flowers in the meantime, have developed into red berries, called drupes, through the summer, maturing to black colour by autumn.


Special Notes: Most of the 150 – 175 species in the Viburnum genus are found throughout the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. There are just a few species with a range which dips into the tropical mountainous regions of southeast Asia, Russia, Ukraine, and South America.

Speaking specifically about the hybrid Viburnum x bodnantense…it is a cross between Viburnum farreri and Viburnum grandiflorum, developed in 1934 – 1935 at Bodnant Garden in north Wales.

The cultivar ‘Dawn’ was a stand-out amongst ten seedlings being grown out…and set aside in 1935 by Charles Puddle who was head gardener to Lord Aborconway at Bodnant Garden.

Because of its early flowering time…which can start as early as late autumn and lasting through winter…this small tree benefits being placed in a spot which affords some frost protection, such as close to a hedge. Site it with as much sun as possible for a better floral display.


In our Zone 7a garden: We are fortunate our ‘Dawn’ usually starts its bloom sometime in November, early December. However, temperatures which dip closer to -5 °C (23 °F) as winter rolls through will affect blossoms. Our tree is planted up against our cedar hedge which does afford it some protection from the prevailing southeast winds.


November 2016: I suspect ‘Dawn’, as one of a very few plants which is in bloom right now in our garden, to be an encouraging reason for two Anna hummingbirds to remain in our neighbourhood through the winter for the very first time.


Posted on December 2, 2016