The pearlbush is putting on an early show of flower in the Woodland Garden.
Exochorda serratifolia is an early-flowering species from northern China and Korea, where it grows in open woodland, slopes and stream banks to a height of 2.5m. The elliptic leaves are serrated from the middle of the leaf to the apex, and take on golden tones in autumn. E. serratifolia produces masses of pearl-like buds, hence the common name, which open to produce star-shaped flowers borne in terminal racemes. A member of the rose family (Rosaceae) it is one of only four species of deciduous shrubs from Asia. This is an easy species in cultivation, and while it grows in most soils it resents shallow chalk.