The name Euonymus conjures up mixed feelings in people–sometimes disdain and sometimes elation. I’m in the latter group. Sure, I get tired of seeing crappy, variegated, scale-infested selections of Euonymus fortunei climb up the foundation of my local shopping mall, but those poor schmucks are hardly representative of a genus otherwise full of plants with fine foliage and fruits.
One of these that I’ve enjoyed for many years in my garden, is Euonymus fortunei ‘Wolong Ghost’, brought into cultivation by the inimitable and intrepid plant explorer Dan Hinkley of the former Heronswood Nursery. Discovered in the Wolong Nature Preserve, this handsome form of E. fortunei owes its ornamental virtues to narrow, jade green leaves bisected by a sharp, white midrib–electric. I first grew this back in the early 2000s, planting it under the shade of an old weigela in the back garden. In the years after, I slowly forgot about it and the damn weigela, until the latter had overgrown (and shaded out) the former. Gardener displeased. On a whim one day, I backed the lawn mower up to the backside of the bed, tied a log chain around the base of the gnarly, mangled crown of the weigela and drug it off to a brush pile. Who says you can’t remodel the garden? In its place I planted a Calycanthus floridus that a colleague of mine had grown from seed collected in a unique provenance in northern Alabama. As I was pulling back the leafy mulch to make room for this new addition, I found three stems of ‘Wolong Ghost’ poking out from underneath. Shiny, lustrous and calling for attention, the original plant had persisted in the dark underneath that weigela. For that, it earned a gold star and my respect.
I’ve also decided, per your requests, to start sourcing plants for each of these posts. I’ll try to post sources for the posts before this too. This Euonymus isn’t abundant in commerce, but more people really should grow this. It’s tremendously adaptable, so long as it grows in well-drained soil and relatively hardy through USDA Zone 5, though I do notice a little tip dieback in especially hard winters.