Pollinator Gardening: In Praise of Summersweet (Sweet Pepperbush)

I spent sometime this morning enjoying the sweet-pepperbush (Clethra alnifolia) in my yard, taking in its heavenly scent and watching the many bumblebees visiting the plant. I have to say that it is one of my favorite shrubs for pollinators. It is one of our few native shrubs that blooms in late summer, with prolific spikes of showy white flowers in early August and a scent strong enough to carry on the breeze. It’s a great plant for eco landscaping, with a neat, showy appearance even when not in flower and with winter interest as well. Sweet-pepperbush can grow in sun and shade, and likes some soil moisture. There are thus lots of cultivars of this plant to choose from, but I find the straight native version to be just as beautiful. Sweet-pepperbush is native to Coastal Maine, although it is not found in our part of the Midcoast area.

We chose this plant for our new demonstration shrub planting at the Wales Park pollinator garden, where you can see it in bloom right now, along with other attractive native shrubs including meadowsweet, common elderberry, sweetfern, spicebush and redosier dogwood. The garden is a great place to start learning about pollinator plants. We recently completed most of our plantings and have labeled all the plants. We have also made a map and key for the garden. A guided tour of our pollinator garden will be offered August 27th from 10am to 4pm by the Belfast Garden Club Open Gardens event; see their website for more information.

Wales Park Pollinator Garden Map and Key 2021 v 1