Monday, March 8, 2010

Thinking Spring-Color in the Garden Part II: Deciduous & Flowering Shrubs

PeeGee Hydrangea Tree
In the last segment I discussed evergreen color in the garden. In this section I will be adding the use of deciduous shrubs with color as well as flowering shrubs for long term color. These shrubs along with perennials are to be used along with the evergreens discussed previously. When choosing colorful shrubs remember to use only a few color choices and repeat them throughout the garden in groupings of odd numbers for a more naturalistic look.

Rosy Glow Barberry
An old time favorite in the garden is the ‘Royal Burgundy’ barberry. Its deep burgundy color stands out against any of the green, golden or blue varieties of evergreen discussed in the previous section and grows only to two feet in height. Another variety of barberry, ‘Rosy Glow’ grows much taller to about three to four feet or more over time but is beautiful in the right setting and can be maintained with regular Fall or late winter-early spring (March) pruning. It gets its name ‘Rosy Glow’ from the light pink glow of new growth which it gets in the spring through early summer. Each of these barberries contrast nicely with blue spruce, gold mop cypress and blue atlas cedar. Alternates to barberry for burgundy foliage are Weigela 'Spilled Wine' and Ninebark 'Diablo'.

Spirea 'Limemound'
Spirea in the family Rosaceae is a wonderful addition in the garden and is available in a multitude of sizes and colors. Some of my personal favorites are Spirea ‘Little Princess’, a small compact pink flowering form that tolerates shade and the sun loving Spirea ‘Limemound’ which has an unusual lime color to its foliage as the name indicates. Some other nice selections are ‘Gold Mound’, ‘Gold Flame’ and Spirea ‘Anthony Waterer’. The later ‘Spirea ‘Anthony Waterer’ grows taller than the other varieties to about three to four feet and serves well as a backdrop to lower plantings, adding a touch of deep pink throughout the summer. Spireas can get as wide as they are tall so give them plenty of space and enjoy. They can be easily maintained by regular Fall or early Spring (March) pruning to keep their shape and fullness.

Hydrangea 'Endless Summer'
Now onto the hydrangeas and vibernum. The ‘Endless Summer’ collection of hydrangea are the best new additions ever cultivated, a worry free long blooming form of hydrangea which blooms on both old and new wood so you no longer need to worry about when to prune ...fear no more! Hydrangea ‘All Summer Beauty’ also blooms on the new wood of the season and is a nice addition to the landscape. Hydrangea ‘Pee Gee’ and Hydrangea ‘Tardivia’ are two varieties which are available in tree form, each exhibiting bountiful fragrant white blooms and either can be used as a stand alone piece adding a wonderful focal point to the garden.

Viburnum 'Carlcephalum'
If it is a more natural look in the garden you are looking for then the genus viburnum may be what you prefer. Viburnum are known for their graceful arching branches and white blooms, some which resemble the flower of a dogwood. Viburnum plicatum 'Summer Snowflake' as the name indicates has very delicate white flowers which resemble snowflakes which cover the entire plant when in bloom. It is one of the more compact lower spreading forms of viburnum which serves beautifully in the woodland garden and grows to about three to five feet in height. Fragrant varieties of viburnum include Viburnum ‘Burkwoodi’, Viburnum ‘Juddii’ and Viburnum’ Carlesii’ all of which have the fragrance of the sweetest perfume and are all an excellent addition to a natural planting.

Also check out these other interesting shrubs which can add color and interest to your garden: Nandina domestica (False Bamboo), Japanese Skimmia, Weigela, Leucothoe, Knock Out Rose, Rhododendron and Azalea.  Each flowering shrub can add its own personal elegance and beauty to the outdoor landscape. 

In the next part of this series I will discuss the incorporation of long lasting colorful perennials into the garden and make suggestions as to which perennials are best for the continuous enjoyment of your landscape.

                                                       Landscape Design Combinations

Author:Lee@ A Guide To Northeastern Gardening Copyright 2010. All Rights Reserved


  1. Hello!! I am rather new to the gardening game and I am just wondering which of these shrubs would be able to survive best in the Northeast. Any help would be appreciated!!

  2. Hi Indoor Fountains-

    All of the shrubs mentioned are hardy in Zone 7 which covers the Long Island, New York region of the northeast and the majority of them are hardy in zones 5-7 which goes up into New Hampshire. The only ones you want to avoid way up north are the leucothoe, japanese skimmia and weigela. They are not as cold resistant.

    Hope this helps.

  3. The first time I ever saw a picture of Hydrangea PeeGee, not even the real thing, mind you, just a photo, I gasped out loud. Stunning. Nature constantly takes my breath away.


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