Weigela double rewards the gardener with fabulous bloom and fabulous foliage. Indulge in profuse pastel to jewel tone blooms of whites, pinks or reds in late spring to summer. The tubular blossoms are a favourite of hummingbirds and bees. Foliage can range from bronze-maroon to vivid green or variegated greens, or green and white. Favourite cultivars include: Wine & Roses (purple foliage with deep pink blooms), Red Prince (solid bright green foliage with red blooms), Minuet (green tinged purple foliage with medium pink blooms), or French Lace (variegated green foliage with deep pink blooms). So much delectable choice - I counted ten weigela shrubs in my garden, so it is a staple of mine!
Technical stuff – Weigela/Weigela, deciduous shrub with most cultivars available here hardy to zone 4 or 5, height of 2’-9’ and spread of 3’-10’ (varies by cultivar, dwarf varieties available), prefers full sun or part sun (fewer blooms with less sun) and well drained, moist, fertile soil, blooms late spring into summer, prune back to strong buds after blooming and can remove a third of old growth.
The flowering quince opened its juicy orange blossoms this weekend! Lavish clusters of coral orange cups that shine in the spring sun. The long weekend's warm weather brought on many blooms - just lovely! Read more about flowering quince by clicking here.
Tropical foliage, decadent plumes of bloom and minimal maintenance, are the priority attributes of false spirea, or Sorbaria sorbifolia. My favourite aspect of this deciduous shrub is when the beaded clusters of pearly buds are just beginning to burst into billowy, frothy, beauteous sprays of bloom. The arching, red tone branches carry soft, fluttering fronds in luscious green. The fluffy blooms will brown and dry into seed heads that I leave over the winter, then cut back in spring. This sprawling shrub is best suited where it has room to grow as its suckering habit can be invasive. You can cut this shrub right back to the ground in the spring if you’re looking for a fresh beginning (and this will diminish the suckering). False spirea is a remarkably durable and tolerant shrub considering its exotic features that provide interest in every season.
Technical stuff – False spirea/Sorbaria sorbifolia, hardy deciduous shrub to zone 3, height and spread of 5’-8’, fall sun to part shade, adaptable to soil, blooms in summer.
This happy, low maintenance shrub presents a splashy spring show year after year. Wayfaring tree as it is commonly known, or Viburnum lantana, can grow to 10’ tall with multiple branches forming a somewhat round shape. It requires pruning only of damaged or unwanted branches, or you may (or may not!) choose to clean it up a little after blooming. The pointed leaves are a downy matte green with well pronounced veins, giving them the typical viburnum leathery appearance. Late spring brings splendour as sumptuous creamy blooms adorn the textured foliage. Despite the common name, Wayfaring tree is considered a shrub, albeit a large one – if you have space, an easy shrub with a beauteous spring show and super attractive foliage!
Technical stuff – Wayfaring tree/Viburnum lantana, deciduous shrub hardy to zone 3, height and spread of about 10’, full to part sun, adaptable and vigorous, white blooms in late spring.
It is said there is only one reason to grow flowering quince (Chaenomeles): for its spectacular spring show of flowers, and oh, what a show! Whether red, pink, white or orange, its branches cascade in fluffy, exotic blooms. The buds line up like beads and burst into five-petal satin cups. The blooms do resemble fruit blossoms that will turn into mini apple-like fruits, not edible raw, but it is possible to make preserves. Flowering quince does have secondary attributes of glossy dark green foliage, and en masse can make a thorny privacy hedge that explodes in spring bloom (without pruning, flowering quince can become a large, tangled shrub). With my soft spot for orange-coral blooms, this shrub charmed itself into a home in my garden. For a small garden, I would choose a shrub with multi season interest over the tease of a flowering quince.
Technical stuff – Flowering quince/Chaenomeles, deciduous shrub hardy to zone 4, japonica has height and spread of about 3’, and speciosa has height of up to 10’ and spread of up to 15’, full sun for best flowering but can do part shade, blooms in spring.
This fall the burning bushes are a riot of flaming berries, such that the slathered branches glow on despite losing their leaves. Rows of glittering cerise are beaded along the barberries. European snowballs are laden with ripe clusters of juicy red. Yews are speckled with tender red bells, especially festive against lively green needles. Plump and jolly berries nestle amongst the sprawling branches of cotoneaster. And for a change from red, lustrous lavender-mauve bejewels the bare branches of beautyberry. Note to self – next year I would like to add the vivacious orange of bittersweet berries, and the gentle white berry clumps of snow berry.
The myriad of fall colour dazzles, inspires, exhilarates and fascinates. There are many supporting characters in autumn’s grand show. Perennials continue rewarding with splendid foliage as below: balloon flower in lemon yellow, rudbeckia in green to pink, and sundrops in tarnished maroon. Many shrubs transform into an array of spectacular pinks, reds, corals, oranges and golds. The hazel below adds tarnished golden yellow to brighten the shade garden. Abelia displays in heated vermilion, hosting starry clusters of spent blooms. With berries like ruby beads, barberry branches burst with burgundy wine and coral red. Blackberry canes in magnificent mauve carry ridged leaves in pink and lime. The leaves of pagoda dogwood gradate from green to magenta, and fothergilla celebrates in crimson and coral. But winds have begun, rain has come and the leaves are floating down, tumbling and layering. Those leaves are great mulch - chop them up with the lawn mower, or bag them to hide away in a corner to rot into compost over a year or two.
As kids, we used to rate the fall colour by how ‘neon’ the sumacs were that year – had they turned gleaming tangerine, shocking orange, or was it vibrant cherry? And in a well rated year, we would have a spectacular mix of all three! Sumacs have opposing leaves on sculptural branches, with a frond-like, lush green, tropical aura through spring and summer. They also bear fuzzy, burgundy fruit bundles in upright clumps come September, but are refuted for their captivating fall colour. Sumacs are not for a small garden. They are a suckering shrub (new shrubs shoot up from roots of the original shrub) with a vigorous spreading habit. In a cottage, country or larger property this can be of benefit if you are looking for a colony of large shrubs, with multi season interest. This year I would rate the sumacs at a 9 out of 10 by the way - where I live, the fall colour is now at its magnificent peak, with a hearty contribution from the sumacs! Technical stuff – Sumac, large deciduous shrub hardy to Zone 2, height and spread of 10’-20’+, prefers well drained, average soil and full sun (will tolerate part sun but lesser fall colour), aggressive spreader.
This is the time when Burning Bush earns its common name. The upright branches are afire in scarlet, crimson, even pushing into brilliant, fuchsia pink. In its prime, Burning Bush can rival any tree for the hottest fall colour. Burning Bush, or Euonymus Alatus, also called Winged Euonymus (because of wing shaped ridges on its branches), is an easy to grow, deciduous shrub that quietly provides a medium green backdrop through spring and summer. Then in the fall, those quiet leaves turn fierce for a fiery red show. There are insignificant white summer blooms that turn into red berries, often hidden in the foliage. Burning Bush does have some downfalls: the spectacular colour is not dependable with best results in a full sun, not too dry a location, it grows large for a shrub, and it’s considered tasty by deer and rabbits. The rabbits have pruned my shrubs a few times, but they bounce back fine. Burning Bush is tolerant of pruning or shearing, so that can be a solution to its size. The question will be – do you have the space and patience for this shrub, to make the 2-3 weeks of stellar fall colour worthwhile?
Technical stuff – Burning Bush/Euonymus Alatus, deciduous shrub hardy to Zone 5, height of 8’ – 20’ depending on variety, full sun, non-descript summer blooms turning into small red berries, refuted for brilliant fall leaf colour. Note that in parts of the US this shrub is considered invasive.
I am early in my relationship with roses relative to many gardeners, but have dappled in the vast array of varieties. Each of my selections has been classified as ‘easy care’, which happily they have proven to be. I can see where the deep, long lasting love for roses comes from - lustrous colour, romantic unfolding of complex buds, divinely intoxicating fragrance, elegant velvet petals. With many plants, or with gardening in general, you can go from interest, to fascination, to adoration, to obsession. And reap joy at every stage! Roses have me teetering between fascination and adoration. The beauties below are all blooming now, still granting a sumptuous show, and celebrating October sunshine!
The gift of fragrance can be abundant in the garden. Three of my favourite scents are dancing on the garden breeze right now: abelia, jacob’s ladder and mock orange. Abelia is a relative to honeysuckle so comes by its sweet scent honestly. The softly arching branches carry clusters of perfect five petal, pale pink blooms that boisterously waft a jasmine-like bouquet. Jacob’s ladder is a common enough perennial, but many don’t realize the fruity scent of the delicate blossoms – reminds me of grape candy! And my beloved mock orange. Growing up on the farm we had a big old mock orange shrub outside of our screened porch; the incredible orange blossom fragrance takes me back every time. I am partial to the shrub version (Philadelphus lewisii ‘Blizzard’), with light green leaves that’s happy in part shade. All of these easy to care for plants can add another level of enjoyment to your garden!
I do get carried away with perennial blooms, but branches can be just as breathtaking, especially in spring! The cup-like new leaves of hydrangea embrace pending new growth inside. 'Golden Flame' spirea dutifully sprouts new growth in fire red, easing to tangerine, golden and then fresh green. The pea shrub offers tight green bundles that unfold to dainty green foliage. 'Coppertina' ninebark has a surreal glow of auburn with hits of orange, creeping into green-purple at its frilled edges. The lemon lime combo in 'Monet' weigela offers citrusy freshness. Elegant dogwood in pointed green and white that juxtaposes to its blood red stems. Branches with buds – the famous pink tinged apple blossom, a simple white plum blossom, or cascading, luscious flowering quince – just enrich the experience and express the hope of spring. Shrubs and trees are the bones, and can easily be the beauty, in the garden!