January 22, 2016

A Few Good Shrubs

Since I highlighted one of my favorite books, I guess it's only fair to share a few of my favorite shrubs, as well.  Keep in mind that loving them doesn't always mean successfully growing them....unfortunately.
Let's start out with a sentimental favorite from my childhood (way back to pre-Alaska, Idaho days).
The lovely common snowball bush, or Viburnum opulus 'Roseum.'
Each large flowerhead is made up of lots of tiny individual blossoms called florets.
One of my few memories from Idaho was our large snowball bush on the one side of the house. I remember making it "snow" in summer, by picking one of the snowballs and shaking it, until all the florets started snowing down.
May 2015: loaded with those fun snowball blooms!
 I planted this one 2 years ago, in the fall. Even newly planted, it was loaded with blossoms the following spring. It's still small (it can get up to 8' tall & wide), but has probably doubled in size each year so far. I've seen some around town that look like small trees. I hope it gets to be that size!
Then, if the blossoms weren't enough to win me over, take a look at this great surprise I got after the frost! It's the red-leaved one in front.
October 2015

I have always loved roses.
Not that I see myself every devoting myself to them exclusively, but I usually try to have at least 1 or 2 in every flowerbed scheme.  I don't generally plant the Hybrid Tea Roses with the long straight stems and all that. They take way too much pampering.
I do best with the shrub roses, or at least floribundas.
They've got to be able to mostly take care of themselves if they're going to survive in my flowerbeds!

Fuschia Knockout Rose in Missouri.

Miniature rose in my front flowerbed.
So far I have just this one mini, but I may add others if and when space opens up.

This 'Yellow Topaz' rose smelled amazing and seemed to be very vigorous, until most of it mysteriously died off last summer. There's a slim chance it'll make it through the winter, but I'm not holding my breath.

My newest roses are my most favorite so far.
Have you ever heard of English roses?
Bred for scent, old-fashioned full form, and hardiness, they are awesome!

 Pleased to introduce you to 'William Shakespeare.'
I've got 3 of this variety out front, one on the bottom terrace, and 2 on the middle terrace.
They smell really good and have that deep crimson color that is just fantastic.

'Abraham Darby' (ahem, "Abram Dah-by, if you will)
This rose has a citrusy scent that is just divine.
Also, it is gorgeous.
What's not to love?
I'm hoping it grows so much this year that there will be enough to cut and bring inside.
I just have the one and it's in my back flowerbed.
 What else? Oh yes, we can't leave out hydrangeas.
In Missouri I had the 'Endless Summer' variety:
So many shades of pink & purple on the same bush. So pretty!
I tried planting this type here, on my back slope, but they died right off.
[I find myself typing that a lot in relation to the back slope. Sigh.]
[* cough * Hill of Death *cough*]
Not to be deterred, I planted a different type out front:
'Quick Fire' Hardy Hydrangea. 
So far, so good.
The blooms open white, then turn pink as they age.
I also managed to put in an Oakleaf Hydrangea in the flowerbed up next to the front porch.
 It hasn't bloomed very much yet, but the fall color has been vibrant.

My newest hydrangea acquisition:
'Little Lime' hydrangea
This one is in the new shed flowerbed, and I love it already.
Like 'Quick Fire' this one's blooms turn start out white and turn pink as they age, but in between they turn a lime green color.
I have high hopes for this one!
A surprise favorite is this elderberry 'Black Beauty.'
I would never have chosen it, until I saw it in a friend's garden and couldn't get over the dramatic coloring, and how every color nearby just popped.
Also, check out how the color echoes the coneflower seedheads here!
I actually put in another last summer, which I hope grows tall quickly to match.
Oh, and speaking of great leaf color: I have to give a shout-out to the sorbaria,
Sem False Spirea.
It has finely-cut leaves in that zingy chartreuse color, with the new growth coming in pink.
It brightens up this whole corner of the flowerbeds out front.
I will say that every so often I find a runner popping up 3-4 feet away, but so far they have been easy to snip off, and shallowly rooted enough to pull right out.
It also blooms in early summer, though the flowers are nothing to write home about.
It's the foliage that takes center stage on this one, anyway!
There are more. Yes, always a few more, but I will stop here.
I wish I had lilac pictures to show you.
I love lilacs, and although I have planted them every place we've lived, I have yet to see an actual lilac bloom from my own shrubs.
However, hope springs eternal.
I just put in 3 more last spring. Maybe this year will be the year!
Do you play favorites with your plants?
[Sometimes my favorites end up being the ones that don't die.]
[Except for lilacs.]
What shrubs can you not live without?


  1. How would the snowball bush do in Utah? I love it!

    1. It should do just fine! It's cold hardy down to -30 degrees F, which is colder than Utah usually gets. If you decide to put one in, let me know how it goes!