Names can be confusing especially in the world of plants. While the botanical or scientific names for plants are often difficult to remember, they are universally accepted and used. On the other hand, common names, while easier to pull from our memory and pronounce, can be a source of confusion. Take the word rose as an example. If you think of all the plants that we identify with the word rose as part of their common names you can see how messy name calling can get. Rose of Sharon, Christmas rose, desert rose, and moss rose are all called roses, however none of these plants are actually roses. The Japanese rose is yet another example. It is an old fashioned shrub that many call a rose. In fact, it is actually Kerria japonica. The golden yellow form can be found blooming in gardens in early spring as far north as zone 4. Several years ago I stumbled onto a variety that blooms white, a sharp contrast to the color and double blooms on the more common kerria. The color of the white form, Kerria japonica ‘Alisa’, works better in my garden. It blends well with the late daffodils, tulips and other flowering shrubs like rhododendron and azaleas. The branches of kerria are delicate and graceful, and since the blooms appear just as it is beginning to leaf out, it is a choice plant for adding elegant lines and a sense of movement to early spring flower arrangements.

One of the outstanding characteristics of this shrub is that it will bloom heavily in full to partial shade. In fact, it prefers shelter from full sunlight. It will grow in any well-drained soil.