Everyday Gardeners

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Landscaping Ideas

The Wide World of Shrubs

ablogYou’ve probably never heard of Spring Meadow Nursery, a great company in beautiful Western Michigan, but I bet you’ve heard of some of their plants: ‘Limelight’ hydrangea, Sugar Tip rose of Sharon, Pinky Winky hydrangea, Blue Chiffon rose of Sharon (shown here), Incrediball hydrangea, Bloomerang lilac, Quick Fire hydrangea, and Summer Wine ninebark are a few of the shrubby garden superstars they’re responsible for introducing.

I went on a tour of their nursery over the weekend and I’ve come home even more excited about using flowering shrubs in the garden. Want more color in your landscape? These plants make it easy! Try growing a sun-loving Limelight hydrangea as a small tree next to your deck, creating a hedge of rose of Sharon for privacy, or including a flowering quince in your cutting garden.

Incorporate compact shrubs in your perennial beds so you have winter structure and an extra season of interest. Amethyst coral berry (Symphoricarpos), for example offers pinky-purple fruits in fall; Arctic Sun redtwig dogwood bears bold reddish stems in winter; and Snow Day Surprise pearlbush (Exochorda) bursts into bloom in early spring. All dwarf (5 feet tall or less) so they’ll fit right in among purple coneflower, Joe Pye weed, and hollyhock.

I know a lot of garders who like to separate their plants — perennials go in this bed, shrubs over there, and the like. But don’t be afraid to mix and match to create wonderful combinations!

BTW: If you have a great perennial/shrub combo, I’d love to see it! Post it here!

Who Needs Flowers

blogroseA few weeks ago I posted a picture of one of my favorite roses, Rosa glauca, which features fantastic purple foliage. The flowers are cute enough — they’re pink and have five petals, like a wild rose, but they take a backseat to the foliage.

Then in late summer, the hips put on a show by turning glowing shades of orange and red. They attract birds, too. Plus, it’s very hardy — all the way to USDA Zone 2 (40 degrees below zero)!

So with a rose like this, who really needs flowers?

Don’t Forget Flowering Shrubs

Hibiscus syriacus 'Blue Chiffon'When we think about planting flowers in the garden, most gardeners gravitate toward annuals (the ones you plant every year) and perennials (the ones that come back on their own). But there’s another group of great plants that are often overlooked: flowering shrubs.

And that’s a shame, because there are many wonderful, easy-care shrubs that have attractive blooms. Take rose of Sharon, for example. The variety Blue Chiffon is shown here; it offers 3.5-inch-wide flowers from July to September here in Iowa. The shrub itself can get 12 feet tall, but you can keep it smaller by cutting it back in early spring. Its size makes it a good backdrop plant or even a delightful flowering hedge or spring/summer privacy.

Do a little research and you can find a plethora of flowering shrubs for just about any season, in sun or shade. Smaller varieties, such as caryopteris and dwarf weigela, are compact enough you can even plant them in among your low-growing perennials.

Here’s a quick calendar-type list of some of the flowering shrubs I use in my landscape to show how you can enjoy spring-to-fall color in your own yard.


Beautybush (Kolkwitzia)


Lilac (Syringa)



Mock orange (Philadelphus)

Hydrangea (Endless Summer types)

Mountain laurel (Kalmia)


Butterfly bush (Buddleja)

Hydrangea (Endless Summer types)

Hydrangea (oakleaf types)

Hydrangea (paniculata types)

Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus)

Summersweet (Clethra)


Butterfly bush (Buddleja)


Hydrangea (Endless Summer types)

Hydrangea (paniculata types)

Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus)


Butterfly bush (Buddleja)

Hydrangea (paniculata types)

Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus)

Witch hazel (Hamamelis)

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