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Central Midwest Gardening: Colorful Shrubs Provide Texture to a Garden

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

Hardworking shrubs are the backbone of a successful garden because they add texture, color, and year-round interest.

Witch hazel 'Jelena' comes into its full glory in autumn.
Native witch hazel blooms in November.

Shrubs are the heart of my garden: Handsome 'Green Velvet' boxwoods line the front walk, and a mixed shrub border of witch hazel, oakleaf hydrangea and spike winterhazel (Corylopsis spicata) adds depth and texture to the bed along the property line.

I love the witch hazels for their tiny, ribbonlike flowers in fall and winter and for their rich fall color.

Oakleaf hydrangea combines large leaves and big panicles of bloom.

And I appreciate oakleaf hydrangea for its handsome, coarse leaves, enormous panicles of bloom, and dark-red leaves late in the season.

Spiraea 'Ogon' leaves are yellow in spring, green in summer.

Shrubs hold the garden together; they put some rhythm in flowerbeds and give them year-round interest. Fine-textured Spiraea 'Ogon (sometimes called 'Mellow Yellow') has leaves so small, they almost look like feathers.

Clusters of bright-red  berries distinguish cranberrybush viburnum.

Lots of shrubs have adapted to our challenging climate in the Midwest. The native cranberrybush viburnum (Viburnum trilobum) has white flowers in spring and bright-red berries in fall.

 Doublefile viburnum sprouts blooms that resemble lace.

Lacy, white flowers cover doublefile viburnum (V. plicatum tomentosum) in late April. The plant appears delicate but it is untroubled by summer heat and drought.

Pretty beautybush blooms heavily in May.

The beautybush (Kolkwitzia amabalis) in my backyard is one of my favorites--and the birds love it, too. Beautybush grows to about 15 feet tall. Soft-pink flowers cover its arching stems in early May, and the leaf canopy shelters birds all summer long. In winter the birds take shelter in its twiggy branches.

 Bright-pink crape myrtle blooms for months.

A few years ago I added a dwarf crape myrtle to the collection of shrubs in my front yard. My little 'Sweetheart Dazzle' crape myrtle boasts striking deep-pink flowers in late summer.

Sweetheart Dazzle crape myrtle leaves remain lively in fall.

The bush is still gorgeous in October, when the tiny leaves are as lively and colorful as a crackling little bonfire. It is doing so well, I decided to plant 'Berry Dazzle' crape myrtle too. It's just getting started--check out my video to see how easy it was to plant. I know it's going to be great.

What are your favorite shrubs?