Flowering Shrubs That Bring Joy through the Fall SeasonAuthor and garden speaker Kerry Ann Mendez shares an excerpt from her book, The Right Size Flower Garden: Simplify Your Outdoor Space with Smart Design Solutions and Plant Choices
One of my biggest and best downsizing strategies was to replace sweeps of mixed perennial gardens with flowering shrubs and conifers. Dig, dig, swap, swap… Oh what a relief it is! You really don’t appreciate how much more work perennials are, compared to shrubs, until you make the switch. Don’t misunderstand, I still love perennials and will always have these in my garden, just a lot less of them. Most “woodies” simply don’t require the same amount of water, fertilizer and routine care. And I can get every bit, if not more, color from shrubs and trees, especially given the explosion of new cultivars with dazzling foliage, berries, bark and/or form.
Shrubs take on a major role in the right-size garden. To get the most bang for the buck, incorporate varieties with dazzling flowers plus striking foliage and/or stems. Now you’ll have at least three seasons of interest from the same square footage, instead of just the one-trick pony provided by flowers alone. Foliage is all too often the unrecognized star. Leaves co-star with the shrub’s flowers, plus play a colorful supporting role in the garden’s overall beauty.
Below are a few of my favorite flowering shrubs.
Many foliage colors with early summer flowers. I especially love ‘Coppertina’ (bronzey-red), ‘Amber Jubilee’ (orangey-yellow-gold), ‘Dart’s Gold’ (golden-yellow) and ‘Summer Wine’ (burgundy-brown). Zones 3-7
Learn more about ninebark shrubs
'Carol Mackie’ (green leaves with creamy-white margins) and ‘Briggs Moonlight’ (Creamy yellow leaves with dark green margins). Zones 5-8
Smoke Bush (Cotinus)
‘Royal Purple’ (red-purple leaves), ‘Velvet Cloak’ (deep purple leaves), ‘Golden Spirit’ (golden-yellow leaves), ‘Grace’ (plum-red leaves). These large shrubs can easily be coppiced (pruned hard) to be much smaller, although the flowers are sacrificed. Zones 4-8
Read more about growing smoke bush.
‘Blue Mist’ (frosty blue leaves, 2’ - 3’ tall) and ‘Blue Shadow’ (frosty blue leaves, 4’ - 6’ tall). Zones 5-9
Blue Mist Shrub (Caryopteris divaricata)
‘Snow Fairy’ (soft, minty green leaves with white margins). Zones 5-9
This is an excerpt from Kerry Ann Mendez’s The Right Size Flower Garden: Simplify Your Outdoor Space with Smart Design Solutions and Plant Choices (St. Lynn’s Press, 2015).