Vote for the Worst of the Worst-Shrub.

Okay, here is the list to this date. I only took nominees from the comments, I did not take any from e-mail. I figure if you are going to bash a shrub-bash it in public. There are 10 shrubs listed some by botanical, some by common, and a couple listed by-the whole entire species e.g. “juniper(s)”.

This is; of course, all for fun, unless someone ask me to design in some of these bad boys . . . then it becomes a serious matter.

The nominee list will stay open until I put up a page on Squidoo-like the one I put up for trees. Any and all comments and votes are still open.

Here are the Nominee’s:

  • Prunus laurocerasus: Pruned short or tall, wide or narrow, it’s just underwhelming. And must there be such a volume of it? Is there really that little to choose from? Of course not.
  • Euonymous. S: The worst looking shrub in my neighborhood.
  • PJM Rhododendron: Overused to the point that it is obnoxious. It looks like a blob of chewed grape bubble gum.
  • Corylus avellena ‘Contorta’: Common Name: “Canker Farm”. An oddity at best. Why does anyone plant this contraption?
  • Juniperus ‘Plumosa Compacta Youngstown’. If you’ve never seen Phomopsis up close and personal, just plant a few of these babies. Especially near irrigated beds or turf.
  • The Yew; Taxus sp.: We run electric hedge trimmer over it a couple times a year, and now we can’t see off the front porch.” They understand it even less when I show them that it’s going to look like crap after I’m done getting it reined in and then it’s going to take several years to fill back in. So I’d never plant one. (+1)
  • Leylandii ? (Leyland Cypress-I believe)I’ve just chopped four feet off the top of a row of these buggers (ancient Briton term) in this new, otherwise blank canvas garden, it still leaves a seven foot high hedge but I hate the stuff.
  • Juniperus chinensis ‘Hetzii’, the Hetzii juniper, you might as well throw the Pfitzer juniper in there as well. Is that 2? No matter, they both; uh, suck . . . professionally speaking.
  • Euonymous alata, burning bush, burning bush, burning bush . . . I say no more. (+4)
  • The “Common Privet”, doesn’t deserve to be recognized by it’s botanical name. (+2)
  • Spirea x cineria ‘Grefsheim’, I do not apologize for picking on poor ‘Grefsheim”, heck this newer cultivar may actually be “okay-at best” . . . my pen, er, keypad is aimed squarely at Spirea-a rather unremarkable plant. (-1)

Addendum: the ( ) are numbers from comments, in agreeing to this shrub “is the worst”. The minus 1 is a disagreement to have this shrub added. So there we have it.

By Rick Anderson

The Whispering Crane Institute was originally formed to act as the umbrella organization for the Philosophy of Design Symposium, and other seminars and workshops given by Rick Anderson and Richard L. Dube’. In the year 2000 WCI became a sole proprietorship owned by Rick Anderson. Today the WCI provides design and consultation services for Landscape Contractors, acts as a Green Industry think tank, and provides training for others in the form of workshops, seminars, and individual consulting. The WCI also provides written material, opinions, case-studies and how-to articles for industry trade magazines.


  1. Oh crap, I just planted 4 Rhododendron!!! 2 of which are PJM Rhododendron!!! Granted my goal is to keep them trimmed way down. No more than 3 feet.

    I think most people who plant them and then just let them grow are the ones who give them a bad name. So I only partially agree with you there.

    Burning bush, Yew and Juniper.. those have my votes for plants from hell!

  2. i vote for anything that is shaped into a lolly-pop on a stick shape…or square. In front of most everyones house….I mean UGH. Get some imagination people! shape them into animals at least!…..

    if that vote doenst count….

    then PRIVET…..

    then juniper….(how ugly those things are!)

  3. I really can’t nominate a “Worst Shrub”, because over the years I have found that some of these so called offenders have actually proved to be quite apt for their intended purpose(s).

    Take for instance these two above mentioned plants , ‘ Taxus and Juniper’.
    Just last week I was perusing the nurseries in trying to find the perfect iconoclastic Mediterranean Italian hillside columnar sky reaching tree to punctuate the skyline of a Tuscan styled villa in Napa Valley.
    No better plant expresses this aesthetic ideal than the sky rocket Juniper or Cupressus , ( though I did entertain the thought of Taxus baccata for awhile ).

    I used to abhor planting the overly used Agapanthus africanus.
    Here in my corner of the United States this plant can be seen planted along side of freeways and in every shopping mall and gas station.
    But now there are such wildly fabulous hybrids as Agapanthus Storm Cloud with its 6 foot tall stems topped with irridescent intense deep dark electric purple flowers or the wonderfully variegated leaf forms such as ‘Tinkerbell’.
    I happily plant these new hybrid ‘work horses’ in the garden.

    Privets, Grecian laurels, Rhododendron and Junipers, … yup, I’ve planted them and probably will continue to do so , right along with Cussonia paniculata, Chondropetalums, Anigozanthus and Passifloras.

    I guess I am just a equal opportunity plant zealot.

  4. I’ll second the taxus and burning bush. Nasty things.

    But I must defend the PJM rhododendron – it’s the only flowering bush that makes it through the winter to actually flower in our cold shady yard. Granted, we’re pushing the limits of places you’re supposed to grow rhododendrons, but it’s nice that it lets us push, even if it isn’t nearly as attractive as varieties we could grow in a more favorable situation.

    I’m not a terrible fan of any of the others listed, but my hatred for them pales in comparason to the taxus and burning bush, so I will let others lead the charge there.


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