By Susan Albert
Shrubs are multistemmed woody plants that range from small to tall and are used for a variety of purposes in the landscape. Most people probably think of shrubs as foundation plantings around the home to increase curb appeal and soften the sharp lines of the home’s construction. But you also can use shrubs as a privacy hedge or screen, in a mixed border, or as a specimen plant, as well as to attract wildlife.
I like shrubs that provide multiseason interest—those that bloom in spring or summer and offer other attributes such as fruit for the birds and/or fall color. Those that qualify include beautyberry, viburnum, redtwig or yellowtwig dogwood, mahonia, and aronia.
Deciduous or evergreen shrubs also look great featured in containers on the porch, deck, or patio. Sculpted evergreens, such as spirals, are very eye-catching as entrance accents. I have a variegated false holly (Osmanthus heterophyllus ‘Goshiki’) in a container right now that should really look good once it gets a little taller.
Shrubs suitable for container culture include the pyramid-shape boxwood (Buxus sempervirens ‘Green Mountain’), the lacy-foliage Fine Line buckthorn (Rhamnus frangula), and golden false cypress (Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Golden Mop’). Also try the more compact varieties of spirea.
For shrub borders you either can mix varieties or group the same ones. Pictured right is a carefree “mophead” hydrangea border at the home of Julie Meeks of Tulsa, Oklahoma, whose yard was featured in a June garden tour. Shrub roses, such as Belinda’s Dream Rose (Rosa x ‘Belinda’s Dream’) or Knock Out roses, are great additions to a shrub border.
For a large area shrubs can intermingle with perennials such as these (see photo at top) shown at the Linnaeus Teaching Gardens at Woodward Park in Tulsa, one of my favorite places to see new varieties of plants.
Also growing at Linnaeus is a rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus), which brightens a stream, along with a glorious purple-leaf ninebark (Physocarpus). I’d like to try the ‘Summer Wine’ cultivar, which is a dense, compact ninebark with leaves evolving from orange to reddish burgundy. Yellow and copper-leaf varieties also are available.
Large shrubs with showy flowers or colorful fall foliage can work as specimens or standalone plants. Weigela (pictured right), chaste tree (a Texas superstar), buttonbush, and hydrangeas are well suited as specimens.
Foundation plantings can include a variety of colors, textures, and shapes such as those pictured at the home of Steve and Maureen Forsythe in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. Conifers, Japanese maple, and Itea provide rich, contrasting hues.
Check out your Lowe’s garden center and county extension office for more details about shrubs suited to Texas and Oklahoma gardens.
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