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Double Duty Plants

Double Duty Plants

Shrubs for more color in your landscape.

At design consultations the clients frequently say that they want two things: more color, and low maintenance. Fortunately these are both very attainable with the right selection of shrubs. Here are some tips for filling your yard with easy color.

  1. Choose shrubs with a variety of foliage colors and textures. If you plant shrubs that have leaves or needles in different sizes and colors, your landscape will always be beautiful whether there are flowers in bloom or not.
  2. There are many new varieties of shrubs that are repeat flowering, so look for those. Summer Snowflake Viburnums, Bloomerang Lilac, Encore Azaleas, and Sonic Bloom Weigela are four examples of shrubs that produce flowers beyond their normal blooming period.
  3. Check how large the shrubs you’re considering grow, and site them accordingly. If you want plants that stay below a window, for example, choose a short-growing variety so you won’t have to prune to fight that plant’s genetically determined size.
There are several new Diervilla varieties that have purple, red and bronze foliage. These native shrubs also have yellow flowers in early summer and they attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Place a dark-foliaged plant next to one with yellow, variegated or blue foliage, and you’ve already got a winning combination.
Globe blue spruce is one of the best plants for foliage color twelve months a year. These dwarf evergreens are good in foundation plantings and gardens.
These two spireas are perfect for adding foliage color and flower power. Lil’ Flirt, on the left, and Magic Carpet, on the right, both produce pink flowers. If these plants are sheared right after the flowers fade in late-June, they will produce more colorful foliage and a second batch of flowers. Spirea are also great for dry gardens, slopes and exposed locations.
If you need a lower growing but repeat flowering rose, try one in the Flower Carpet family. They stay under 3 feet tall and repeat flower through the summer, whether they are deadheaded or not. We have several colors in stock in the rose section.
This garden shows the power that colorful foliage has. On the left, Chardonnay Pearls Deutzia has yellow leaves and is covered in white flowers in June. That yellow foliage looks lovely next to the tall, Center Glow Physocarpus (aka Ninebark), and the yellow Japanese Forest grass (Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’) also adds texture and color from April until hard frost.
A yellow leafed Weigela adds flower and foliage color, and the white blooms of Summer Snowflake Viburnum repeat throughout the summer.
Variegated plants are especially attractive next to dark green or purple-leaved shrubs. This is a variegated boxwood, a useful plant in sun to part-shade gardens.
Love Lilacs? Wish they’d bloom a bit longer? This is Bloomerang, a lilac that repeat flowers at least twice in the summer. It’s especially flower-filled if the first flush of blooms are clipped off once they fade.
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