Diervilla ‘Cool Splash’

I carefully plan every plant purchase. Only after I’ve identified a viable open spot in the garden, done extensive research on all of my options and carefully evaluated my budget will I take the plunge.

And if you believe that, well, we need to get to know each other better.

I’m a reckless plant shopper. I grab first and ask questions later. I never have to locate available space in the garden because there is always available space in the garden. That’s rule 4.27 in the garden shopping handbook.

A few years back, while shopping at my local nursery, I spotted a variegated shrub that I assumed was a boxwood or euonymous. Upon closer inspection I was wrong. It was a Diervilla which I’m ashamed to admit I’d never heard of before. The common name is “bush honeysuckle” but that still didn’t help me.

So I put in my cart and bought it and brought it home without any additional research.

That’s how I roll.

I was the proud owner of Diervilla ‘Cool Splash’.

The next day, after some cursory research and a few walks around the garden, I found the spot. A partially shaded location along my front foundation where this section of the garden was screaming for some brightness among all of the green foliage. I squeezed it in right behind some red Heuchera (Coral Bells) and it instantly brought the spot to life.

But let me back up.

Here are some specifics on this deciduous shrub:

Size: 2-3′ high X  2-3′ wide

Zone: 4-8

Exposure: Full to partial sun

Moisture level: Normal

Bloom: Yellow flowers in June-July

Deer resistant: So far yes, but I’m still skeptical

By mid-April, this deciduous variegated shrub starts to break bud.

Within a week or two, it has fully leafed out and the foliage color is at its “whitest” at this time.

While the shrub is listed as 3′ x 3′ at its max size, it does spread through underground rhizomes and can allegedly form a colony. No signs of that yet for me, but I’ll be watching closely.

I have my Diervilla ‘Cool Splash’ next to pink Monarda (Bee Balm) and the bloom color contrasts beautifully with the bright foliage.

The variegated foliage remains on the shrub into November before it falls off.

If I take a step back, and show you this section of the garden from a distance, you can get a better feel of this shrub’s impact.

Here it is in late summer.

And in the middle of fall.

And finally in late fall, still making a statement.

I can only hope that impact increases year after year as the Diervilla ‘Cool Splash’ attains its full size.

What do you think?

12 thoughts on “Diervilla ‘Cool Splash’

  1. Elaine

    I also bought one a couple of years ago… also never having heard or seen one. But I was totally drawn to the variegated foliage. (Buy first/research later.) Now two seasons have come and gone and I am ….disillusioned. I too have been vigilant about looking for rhizome runners but that hasn’t been a problem yet. My shrub wants to grow more prostate than I expected. But my biggest issue is the new growth is coming in solid boring green instead of vibrantly variegated. So sad. So it will be getting replaced this spring. (BTW I’m from Nebraska.)

    1. jmarkowski Post author

      Sad to hear Elaine. I’ve heard others mention the loss of variegation. Fingers crossed for my 3rd spring with it. Thanks for the info!

  2. Sue Webel

    I grew this for a few years in my previous garden and had varied results. One struggled and grew prostrate in part shade and one was gorgeous in a few hours of hot afternoon sun. Even the vigorous grower never suckered or got anywhere near three feet tall. It stayed closer to the two by two foot size. I planted one in my new garden last spring on the north side of the house. We’ll see what this season brings but I suspect I’ll be looking to move it to a sunnier spot. Despite the hit or miss success, I love the foliage and will definitely plant others.

    1. jmarkowski Post author

      Hmm Sue. Interesting to hear that it performed better with afternoon sun. That is an option for me should it struggle this year.

  3. Mary Hatton

    I love, love, variegated plants! I will certainly look for this in the spring. I hope it will be available in one of the many catalogues which have started arriving. Locally, I am limited to the nursery sections of big box stores.

  4. Marianna Quartararo

    My good friend Peter Podaras is the plant breeder that developed this shrub. He sent one to me the year before it was released. I had it for several years, it went to about 2.5′ tall and did root out via rhizomes a bit to a mature size of 4′ wide x 2.5′ tall. Sadly a few years ago I had a terrible problem with voles and the shrub was virtually destroyed over the winter. Also had some rabbit browse during the winter and early spring (lots of snow, many of my shrubs took a hit that year). I was able to save a small piece and am regrowing it for sentimental reasons. I have purchased several this past fall and will be using them in a new part shade area I am developing as a remembrance garden for my dogs ashes. Deer never bothered it (I have a number of the native ones on my property) . I had some revision to green leaf and I removed them immediately as you should with any variegated plant that does that. Overall nice shrub. (and yes I would tell Peter if is was not) 🙂

    1. jmarkowski Post author

      Thanks so much for the feedback Marianna! This is phenomenal info. And I’m a bit worried now about the revision to green. Fingers are crossed.

  5. Bill Hodgeman

    Very nice! Have you heard of Snow Fairy Caryopteris? A little bigger, but breaks up the monotony of all green foliage in full sun. Such a wonderful plant!


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