Shrubs are a great way to define your property, outline your landscape and add texture to your garden. Small shrubs especially are often overlooked gems for the yard, providing evergreen color or seasonal flowering with minimal care and effort. Here are some of our favorite diminutive options:
Boxwoods (Buxus) – A classic element of many a landscape, Boxwoods are prized for their almost chameleon-like ability to be shaped into a center stage focal point or structured as a background to showcase other plantings. Deer, pest and insect resistant, there are about 90 species of Boxwood, with over 350 varieties of cultivars. Some wonderful dwarf varieties include ‘Franklin’s Gem’ (finely textured with a mounded form), ‘Dwarf English’ (also a mounded form, about 1-2 feet tall and wide that looks like a green cloud if left unclipped), ‘Wee Willie’ (especially winter-hardy), and ‘Morris Midget’ (very compact – growing to a maximum of 1 foot wide and tall).
Dwarf Norway Spruce (Picea abies ‘Pumila’) – This extremely hardy conifer has beautiful blue-green needles that create a dense, lush mounded form that works well as a hedge, foundation planting, fence or mechanical equipment cover-up or even as a container plant. Attracts birds.
Dwarf Japanese Garden Juniper (Juniperus procumbens ‘Nana’) – New growth is bright green that matures into a gorgeous silvery, blue-green with a purple tinge in winter. This juniper reaches a height of about 1 foot with a 6-foot spread, with branches radiating from the center. This is a lovely addition to rock gardens, and works beautifully as a ground cover, border planting and even as a container planting.
Dwarf Globe Blue Spruce (Picea pungens ‘Glauca Globosa’) – Deer-resistant, easy-to-grow, this beautiful evergreen has dense, gorgeous blue needles with a compact, rounded form that needs no pruning. It does best in full sun, and reaches a height of 4’ and a width of 5’ which makes it a good choice for a hedge or border. Its blue color really pops when paired with white, whether that happens to be winter snow or spring/summer flowers.
Weigela – A bushy, deciduous shrub with prolific, tubular blooms that appear in spring and summer. Deer-resistant, the beautiful flowers attract both butterflies and hummingbirds. There are about 38 species within this Caprifoliaceae family (related to honeysuckle) in a range of leaf and flower colors. Consider ‘Midnight Wine’ for its dramatic dark purple-burgundy leaves with pale pink flowers, ‘My Monet® ‘for its green and cream-edged variegated foliage and pink blooms, My Monet® ‘Sunset’ whose variegated leaves have sage-green centers with pink and soft yellow edges and pink flowers and Sonic Bloom® ‘Pearl’ whose flowers bloom pure white with a beautiful yellow throat that change to a pink hue giving the shrub a multi-color floral look against a background of bright green leaves.
Meadowsweets (Spiraea ) – A genus of over 80 woody shrubs in the Rosaceae (rose) family, the variety ‘Magic Carpet’ (Spiraea japonica) boasts brilliant red leaves in the spring that brighten to a sunny golden yellow in the summer and finally turn a burnished russet in the fall. Small pink flowers dot the branches’ tips in late spring.
Hydrangea – ‘Flare’ is a compact, panicle variety of this popular shrub that only grows to a height and width of between 2-3 feet. Cone-shaped flowers are white when they open and mature to a brilliant, bright pink. A site with 4-6 hours of full sun garners the most prolific blooms, and this variety is particularly winter hardy (down to -40o F!).
Cinquefoils (Potentilla) – ‘Bella BellissimaTM’ is a gorgeous variety of this deer-resistant, butterfly-attracting shrub that is covered in full-sized pink blooms throughout spring and summer. Leaves are small and bright green, letting the flowers take center-stage. This is another very winter-hardy plant, perfect for northern gardens.
Shrub Rose – ‘Peach Lemonade™’ is as refreshing to look at as its name implies. New blooms are lemony-yellow maturing to a bright pink for multi-color garden splendor that lasts from late spring through fall. Pest and disease resistant and winter-hardy, this is the rose to include in your garden if you’ve ever shied away from roses thinking they required too much care.
Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa) – ‘Low Scape Mound®’ is a lovely little shrub with glossy, dark green leaves and a proliferation of tiny, white flowers with pale, pink pollen centers that bloom in spring. In the fall, the leaves turn a brilliant red, accompanied by dark purple berries. Impervious to harsh site conditions such as heat, drought, cold, wet or dry soil and salt.
Main Image Credit: Monrovia – Wine & Roses Weigela