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  • Specimen Shrubs that Wow!

    What's a specimen shrub? It's a shrub that really packs a punch in the landscape. It's unusual--whether due to flowers, fruits, foliage, bark, or all of the above!

    When you want an even, subdued look, you plant multiples of the same shrub to blend into the background. Foundation plantings (around the house) are mostly made up of the same shrub, but for some Wow! Boom! Bang! at the front door or near the driveway you're going to want a specimen shrub. Here are some of our favorites for you.

    Lemon Lace™ Sambucus

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    This looker is at home in full sun to partial shade. It has lacy chartreuse leaves in the summer and flowers that develop into berries in the fall. It provides three solid seasons of interest and is sure to wow.

    Learn More >>

     

    Sonic Bloom™ Pink Weigela

    Screen Shot 2014-06-06 at 11.43.33 AMGosh, we just love these Weigela plants. They're all great, really. Gorgeous foliage, pretty flowers, what's not to like? Sonic Bloom™ starts flowering in the summer and just keeps on going until frost. Butterflies and hummingbirds love it.

    Learn More >>

     

    Sunshine Blue™ Caryopteris

    Screen Shot 2014-06-06 at 12.09.01 PMCaryopteris, also called Bluebeard, is probably THE. MOST. UNDERUTILIZED. shrub in the landscape. Sunshine Blue™ has bright chartreuse leaves and gorgeous blue flowers in September. Just when you think the garden is giving it up for the year, Bluebeard roars in with a big show. You want it. Trust me.

    Learn More >>

  • Proven Winners Shrubs Combos for the Garden

    Can you plant an entire beautiful garden with nothing but shrubs? Yes! Here are some combinations for stellar gardens planted with nothing but, you guessed it, shrubs!

    ColorChoice® Flowering Shrubs are the star of this show. We offer these great shrubs because they are predictably showy in the garden, whether from flowers, fruit, foliage, or bark.

    Wildlife Garden

    Whether you want to attract birds or butterflies, here are some shrubs to start with when planting a wildflower garden.

    Purple Pearls Beautyberry Purple Pearls™ Callicarpa

    This pretty shrub is a North American native beloved by birds and butterflies. Purple Pearls has burgundy leaves and clusters of purple flowers covering the shrub in the fall.

    Sunshine Blue™ Caryopteris

    Late season butterflies need something to sip and the blue flowers of Sunshine Blue™ Caryopteris deliver. Chartreuse leaves provide interest all summer long and a profusion of blue flowers when everything else has stopped blooming carry the garden well into fall.

    Aphrodite Calycanthus

    Aphrodite Calycanthus

    Fragrant red flowers in the summer are the true beauty of this shrub. Butterfly larvae call Calycanthus home, and more baby butterflies means more adult butterflies!

    Little Henry® Itea

    Can one shrub be perfect? If so, this one fits the bill. It has cascading white flower clusters in the late spring to early summer. In the fall the leaves turn a bright red-orange foliage. In the winter, the mounding branches are bright burgundy-red. Make room for this one.

    Four Season Color

    Arctic Sun™ Cornus

    Four season color can come from the foliage, flowers, or even the branches of a shrub. Here are some of our favorites for interesting color throughout the year.

    Arctic Sun™ Cornus

    Pretty yellow-green leaves on this shrub fall off to reveal bright yellow twigs during the winter. It's gorgeous all year round, with different aspects shining depending on the season.

    Wedding Ring™ Buxus

    This pretty little shrub has green and gold variegated pinky-sized leaves. It can be pruned as a low, dense hedge or as a mound. Grows well in the landscape and in containers.

    White Album™ EuonymusWhite Album™ Euonymus

    An evergreen Euonymus, this green and white shrub grows to a max height of 2 feet, so it won't ever overwhelm the landscape. It's equally happy in sun or shade, so it's quite versatile, too!

    Polar Gold™ Thuja

    Polar Gold is almost more of a small tree than a shrub. This pyramid-shaped evergreen has a gold-green color year-round. It is quite resistant to burn. Responds well to hedging!

    What kind of shrubs are you looking for? Chances are there's a Proven Winner for your garden!

  • How to Design a Mixed Shrub Border

    Mixed shrub border

    Want to know a secret to getting a lush and beautiful garden like the one pictured above (which is, by the way, a private garden somewhere in Seattle)?

    Mix it up.

    It's that simple! Mix trees, shrubs, annuals, and perennials together and you'll get a multi-colored, multi-textured garden that delights the senses at every turn.

    This type of garden is sometimes called a "mixed border." It has a "cottage garden" type of look, and it is always lush after allowed to grow for a few years.

    But surely designing this type of garden is much more complicated than it looks?

    Actually, it isn't!

    Color, Form, Texture

    To design your own mixed border garden, you'll need to learn how to work with color, form, and texture.

    Color: The color of the leaves and the flowers on a shrub impact its place in the design. 

    Form: What is the shape of the shrub (or annual plant or perennial plant)? Is it round? (Most boxwood shrubs are round.) Or is it pillar-shaped? (The Sunjoy™ Gold Pillar barberry has an upright/columnar form.)

    Texture: Texture in the garden is just like texture everywhere else, but generally it is the leaves of the plant that display the texture. Plants with small leaves are considered fine textured. (Boxwood or Hebe are examples of this.) Plants with larger leaves are coarse textured. (Viburnums are generally coarse textured.)

    DIY Design

    Now that you know a bit about what you're working with, you're ready to start designing.

    First decide upon a color scheme. Will it be all warm colors (red, yellow, orange, pink) or cool colors (purple, blue, lavender), or a combination of both? After deciding upon colors, look at leaf textures. Choose some plants with large leaves and others with small, fern-like leaves. Last, tackle form. Pick out some plants with stiff, upright growth habits and others with softer, draping growth habits.

    shrubs and perennials

    One way to make designing a border easy is to pick a group of three or five types of plants and repeat the groupings for the length of the garden. 

    Another is to simply focus on repeating colors, forms, and textures throughout the garden, without worrying whether you're using the same plants.

    In the picture, left, the silvery color is repeated in the brunnera (foreground) and the dogwood shrub (left, back). The shape of the hosta leaves and brunnera are both coarse, while the dogwood leaf texture is finer, matching that of the phlox plants pictured, back right.

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    Working Annuals into the Equation

    Annuals are no different than shrubs and perennials, in terms of a mixed border. One advantage is that they provide a relatively constant show of color throughout the summer, while shrubs and perennials can change throughout the season--moving in and out of bloom, changing leaf colors, etc.

    Choose annuals to mix in that repeat the leaf colors of the shrubs or flowers of the perennials. In the picture above the coleus has burgundy accents that complement the loropetalum shrubs and pinkish hues that mimic the blooms of hyssop blooming in the background.

    The key to gorgeous garden design, though, is to have fun and don't be afraid! Just "grow" for it!

  • Wildlife Gardening with Shrubs

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    You might think that you garden just so that you can enjoy the pretty flowers. Or so that you have nice landscaping around your house. You might plant shrubs for privacy screening or as a focal point next to your front door. When you plant shrubs, though, you're also giving a leg up to wildlife--something that's sorely needed in this day and age of rampant development.

    Whether you specifically intend to create a wildlife garden, or welcoming wildlife is a secondary benefit to your landscaping, when you plant shrubs you do the following:

    • Provide a place for birds to nest
    • Provide food for birds, butterflies, and caterpillars
    • Provide cover for birds and other animals
    • Create corridors through which wildlife can safely pass in urban areas

    Birds with food, water, and shelter will fledge (raise) more chicks to maturity. And it's as easy as selecting the right plants!

    Gardening for Birds and Butterflies

    Water

    Before we get to the plants, let's think about water. The National Wildlife Foundation recommends these types of water supplies for habitat gardens:

    • Birdbath
    • Lake
    • Stream
    • Seasonal Poolilex_berry_poppins
    • Ocean
    • Water Garden/Pond
    • River
    • Butterfly Puddling Area
    • Rain Garden
    • Spring

    Food
    Planting shrubs increases the amount of food available to birds in a variety of ways. Some birds eat berries, and will benefit from holly plants and viburnums in the landscape.

    Butterflies and hummingbirds sip nectar from flowers. If you want to lure these winged wonders into the garden you need to plant nectar plants such as butterfly bushes and abelia.

    Shop All Butterfly Shrubs >>

    Shop All Bird Shrubs >>

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    Shelter

    Another important part of wildlife gardening is shelter. Birds need places to build nests. Small mammals need cover. One of our favorite shrubs for shelter is the Beautybush. This lovely native shrub does double-duty with gorgeous purple berries that feed the birds in the fall.

    Don't forget the evergreen shrubs, too! They work hard for you and for your feathered and furry friends in the winter, providing good cover when deciduous shrubs are bare.

    Screen Shot 2014-04-24 at 10.11.28 AMGo Away Deer!

    There's one type of wildlife that pretty much nobody wants in their garden because they'll eat your plants to the ground: deer. And while there aren't any plants that are 100% deer-proof (a hungry deer will eat anything), there are lots of deer-resistant shrubs. These are shrubs that either don't taste good or don't feel good (thorny) for deer to eat.

    Shop all deer-resistant shrubs >>

    (Pictured, right, get deer to steer clear by planting Sunjoy™ Mini Saffron Berberis as a landscape border.)

  • Container Gardening with Compact Shrubs

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    Shrubs might not be the first thing you think of when it comes to container gardening. Once you start using them, though, you'll find that they offer just as much color and interest as annuals or perennials while cutting down on the work required to maintain your containers.

    Benefits of Container Gardening with Shrubs

    • Four-season interest
    • Less "changing out" required
    • Perfect place to "nurse" along smaller shrubs before planting in the garden
    • Unique texture
    • Lower maintenance

    Four Season Interest with Shrubs

    There are two different ways you can use shrubs for four-season interest.

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    1) As the thriller or anchor in a single container planting. You can see in the picture to the right there's a gold and green variegated shrub in the container on the left side. Around the shrub million bells are planted. In the winter those annual flowers can be removed and replaced with pansies for cool weather, which can be switched out again for summer flowering annuals. Instead of needing to replant the entire container, you can just replant the flowering annuals. (The container in the foreground has an ornamental grass performing the same "thriller" function that the variegated shrub does in the back container.)

    "Steal the look" with Wedding Ring Boxwood.

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    2) As color or texture in a multi-container grouping. I like to use the container filled with liriope (pictured, left. Again, not a shrub) as an example of how a plant with interesting form or texture can fill a container all by itself--without needing to be combined with additional plant types.

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    Group a few containers filled with one type of plant together (or, when you're using a shrub, you're usually filling the container with just one plant) and you have a true little garden of containers.

    This grouping (pictured, right) was on display at the United States Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C. It includes two containers planted with shrubs or small trees and one container that incorporates a trailing juniper spilling over the edges of the container while colorful coleus plants provide vertical interest.

    Nursing Smaller Shrubs

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    When you order from Shrub Source you can choose two different sizes of shrubs--a landscape-ready (Gallon) sized shrub or 1 qt size.

    Learn more about our shrub sizes here. 

    While you can plant the quart sizes directly into the landscape, a quart sized compact-growing shrub is also a great choice for container gardening. You can plant the shrub in the container and let it grow for a year or two, providing interesting height and color in your container plantings, and then you can move it out into the landscape once it's bigger. You get double for your money--a container plant for a few years and a larger, fuller shrub that plugs right into the landscape once you pop it out of the container and into the garden.

    The elderberry pictured will be right at home in the container for a few years, but can be planted as a specimen shrub next to the front porch or in a landscape bed once it outgrows the container.

     

    Creating a Unique Sense of Style with Container Shrubs

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    This picture shows shrub plantings at the Dallas Arboretum. You might be saying to yourself "Well, of course they can have lovely trimmed boxwood in giant urns. They have a huge staff."

    Well, the great thing about Sprinter™ Boxwood from Shrub Source is that it is compact, slow growing, and has a fine leaf texture. You can steal this look and make it your own on a much smaller scale. The key to this look is repetition of the same shrub and the same container along the walkway. You don't need twelve of these shrubs, but you could plant four or six to create the same formal look.

    Dare to Thrill

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    Planting a hibiscus in a container is a quick and easy way to add drama. You don't have to wait to get the big beautiful blooms.

    In Naples, FL, their "5th Avenue" of shops is planted from end to end with gorgeous container gardens that change with the seasons. Hibiscus shrubs are a staple for the larger containers. They can be underplanted with "fillers" and "spillers."

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     We love Lil' Kim™ Hibiscus for thrilling container gardens.

     

     

     

  • Evergreens: Never-Ending Beauty

    ilex_berry_poppins If this winter has helped you realize nothing else, it’s that a few evergreens can go a long way in the garden. While the rest of the garden is barren and covered with snow, evergreens provide a respite for your eyes and a promise that everything else will, eventually leaf out.

    There are more reasons to plant evergreens beyond the fact that they have color when nothing else does. Here are some reasons why you’re going to want to make room in the garden for some new plants this year.

    Welcoming Wildlife

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    Development and construction have eliminated much of the naturally existing cover that wildlife, from birds to mammals to reptiles, rely on. You can make a big difference in the health of wildlife populations by planting trees and shrubs in the garden. While some birds need taller trees for nesting, a lot of favorite songbirds derive more benefit from eye-level cover from shrubs. Birds that have access to shelter will fledge (raise to maturity) more chicks. So, it’s not just food (in the form of berries) that shrubs with winter interest can provide. These plants also provide a welcoming home.

    Enjoyment Indoors and Out

    “Winter interest” doesn’t have to mean green leaves. The berries on deciduous hollies such as Berry Heavy ®, Berry Heavy® Gold, Berry Nice®, or Berry Poppins® are beautiful, in part, because they are the stars of the show, with no leaves to distract from the bright color.

     

    basketPorch pot with Evergreens

    The red twigs of Cornus Arctic Fire ™ make stunning and statuesque arrangements without any other flowers. They can also serve as the structure for more elaborate creations.

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    You can use branches and twigs from these and other, evergreen, plants to make porch pots and floral arrangements all year long.

    Privacy and Screening

    Less exciting, but no less important is the important function evergreens have in creating natural privacy and screening. While putting up a fence is a faster way to block out your neighbors, a beautiful row of Thujas is nicer to look at.

    When planting a privacy screen, it’s better to go for Evergreens than deciduous shrubs, even shrubs with dense canopies, because you’ll lose some of the screening benefits in the winter when the shrubs lose their leaves. American Piller Thuja is one of our favorite evergreen shrubs for screening.

    Thuja-American Pillar

    You can plant close together and hedge the plants or allow them to grow to their natural conical shape.

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