One of the easiest categories of plants to care for is the flowering shrub. These plants are very adaptable to most spaces and with hundreds of varieties to choose from, you can add anything from groupings of dwarf shrubs, such as Little Princess spiraea, on one end of your garden to stately specimens like corkscrew hazel or magnolia on the other end.
Pruning is the critical thing to remember when caring for flowering shrubs. If they bloom in the spring, flowering shrubs should be thinned out just after they finish flowering; shrubs that flower in the late summer should be pruned quite harshly in March.
By carefully selecting shrubs you can have colour for every season, creating year-round interest in your garden.
These are becoming the most talked about plants in gardening. Breeders have come up with hundreds of new varieties in recent years giving designers a wonderful palette to work from. Some show stoppers include:
For sunny areas
• ‘Lightning Flash’ Tickseed (Coreopsis tripteris)
This stunning plant grows nearly one metre (3 ft) tall with striking gold foliage. It thrives in heat and humidity; the yellow flowers are a bonus in late summer.
• ‘Summer Morning’ Delphinium (Delphinium grandiflorum)
This plant produces a multitude of light pink flowers throughout the summer.
• ‘Alabama Sunrise’ Foamy Bells (Heucherella)
This is a spectacular variety that changes colour with the seasons; in summer the leaves have red veins, which turn orange/pink in the fall.
For shaded areas
• ‘Chocolate Star’ Corydalis (Corydalis quantmeyerana)
An excellent low-growing ground cover with chocolate brown foliage in spring. This plant tolerates dry shade and makes a nice companion for hostas and ferns.
• Dwarf blue star (Amsonia Montana ‘Short Stack’)
A mounding variety with springtime sky-blue flowers suited for smaller gardens or the edge of borders.
One reason modern varieties of perennials have become so popular is that they require very little maintenance. They should be planted in well-drained soil and mulched with bark to protect the roots and control moisture levels. Stalks should be left standing during the winter, as this helps protect the crown of the plant and will provide a source of seeds for birds to feast on during the cold weather months.