Shasta viburnum is a nice, short way to say Viburnum plicatum var. tomentosum ‘Shasta’, or doublefile viburnum. I’ve been fond of this plant for a long time. Here’s why:
(1) It’s covered with layers and layers of snow-white flowers in spring. (2) Its dense, lateral branches provide year-round shelter to birds, plus hiding places for deer (or so they think). (3) The flowers are followed by red berries that turn glossy black — that is, if the birds let them last that long. (4) Shastas grow fast and are architecturally dense. (5) They make wonderful screens. We planted seven or eight three-gallon containers of Shasta on the hill near the house, staggering them about six feet apart. Within a few years, the plants were wide and tall enough to block out the view of the neighbor’s house above us.
The downside: (1) These plants sucker badly at the base. This of course makes them form a thicker screen, so it’s not all bad. (2) At my house, seedlings pop up in other parts of the yard. They revert to the species form, which does not have rounded, scalloped leaves. (3) They root deeply and grow quickly — again, a mixed blessing. (4) The nursery trade sometimes sells plants that are labelled Shasta, but are really Marie’s viburnum or ‘Mariesii’. I suspect this may have been the case with my plants; they’re supposed to be 6-8 ‘, when they’re actually closer to 10 or 12’. For our purposes the added height and width is no big deal — the better to keep my neighbor from seeing all the nefarious goings-on at the house below!
My favorite doublefile viburnum is ‘Summer Snowflake’. I have one in the back yard that, from a distance, looks like a very healthy, narrow-form flowering dogwood. It’s always a barometer for dry soil, but toughs it out pretty well between rains. More and more, I’m liking and recommending the native viburnums, especially blackhaw (V. prunifolium) and possomhaw (V. nudum).
Everybody’s garden needs a viburnum or two … more if you want wildlife, beauty, and a little bit of privacy in the ‘burbs.