My employer and I did a road-trip last Friday to some of our suppliers to check out what was in bloom and to check and see what was on offer for 2012. Its always an exciting time for me, as I begin compiling the ‘WishList’ items that I hope to be able to introduce to the benches next Spring.
I’d read about a most beguiling shrub Leptodermis oblonga, also known as the ‘Himalayan Lilac’ and quickly added it to my personal WishList. And yes, I did squeal with delight, when, after ogling a new silver leaf Caryopteris, Peter asked what I thought of the shrub next to it. At first [and hence the reference to its striking Lilac-like appearance] I mistook it for Syringa meyeri ‘Palibin.’ Can’t say that I am impressed with the genus as a whole. but upon closer appearance I realized that it something entirely different. I think I surprised Peter by recognizing the name Leptodermis! Needless to say one came home with me!
Definitely diminutive in habit, typically growing to between 0.2 – 1m in height, with slender branches that are grey to pale brown in appearance, with thin bark that is usually exfoliating as it emerges. Leaf blades are typically papery, sometimes leathery, lanceolate or oblong [sometimes elliptic or subovate] between .7 – 2.5cm in length. Flowers are sessile, usually three fascicled and terminate on branches, rarely axillary on upper part of branchlets, lobes are subtriangular with a stiff apiculus at apex, subequal to calyx in length. Its corolla is purplish red and funnel shaped.
Leptodermis begins to bloom in late Spring, and as this recent photo attests, it has a lengthy flowering season! It emjoys sharply draining soil, and is frost hardy to Zone 6. I am curious to see whether it will over winter in my diminutive micro-climate. If so, clients can expect me to expound it virtues next Spring when it hits the benches front and centre! Endemic to sunny hills and slopes, roadsides and thickets of Gansu, Hebei, N. Henan, Ningxia, Shaanxi, Shanxi, Sichuan.