Admittedly, a lot of the focus at our garden centre is on spring flowering shrubs. They look good all year but they really stand out in the spring. Flowering times vary and are dictated in part by the genetics of the plant and in part by the weather and corresponding temperatures.
Some of my favorite shrubs take a little time to get growing in the spring. They like the warmth of summer. Among them is rosy glow barberry, which has a deep red leaf with new growth speckled pink. It grows to about five feet high and four feet wide. Tiny red berries develop from less noticeable yellow flowers. Full sun brings out its best colour.
Waterton’s mock orange is a hardy native plant with a wonderfully fragrant white flower. It also grows to about five feet tall and roughly as wide. Like many native plants, it is adapted to the long dry spell of summer and works great on dry banks.
Wolf willow has silvery foliage and fragrant yellow flowers followed by silver berries over winter. As per usual with silver leaved plants, it is tolerant of dry growing conditions and can be used as a xeriscape plant. It has a mature height of six feet but because we are mainly growing for the foliage, you could prune it to any height you want without the fear of wrecking next year’s flowers.
Blue spruce look especially attractive now with their new growth showing off a stunning silver-blue.
Mugo pines offer a solid deep green colour accent. Again they are very drought tolerant.
Three kinds of yew offer three different growing habits all in a soft needled deep green. Yew is drought tolerant and shade tolerant as well.
Limeglow juniper and blue star juniper offer more colour accents on the bulletproof hardy shrub option. They are smaller than the carpet juniper and work well in any landscape exposed to the sun.
Artemesia “Silver Mound” (wormwood), technically a herbaceous perennial (dies to the ground each year and comes back), is a brilliant silver ground cover. Very drought tolerant once established, it does exceedingly well once out of the pot.
For a herbaceous perennial colour accent that does better with a little less sun try one of the following heucheras, “Mar-malade” or “Peach Flambe” — two orangey leaved varieties — or “Midnight Rose” with a darker maroon coloured leaf.
Evan Davies owns Beltane Nursery at 2915 Highway 3 in Erickson.