Monday, April 25, 2016

Flowering Shrubs and Annuals

An heirloom Spirea from Grandpa Dougherty's (circa 1935)


The rains have been a blessing, the countryside is green once again and we are recovering from the drought. Over time as the drought intensified, many of us lost favorite flowering shrubs and since Friday is Arbor day, perhaps plant a new one.


If the lovely selection of shrubs is reviewed, it becomes evident that one can have scented and flowering beauty all season with very little effort. One of the nicest things about shrubs is after flowering they continue to look splendid for the duration of the season, some with berries which appear from the flowering, some with simply exquisite foliage.


The Viburnum species are a marvelous addition. They flower early and fill the garden with the first breath of spring and following flowering they still appear attractive dressed in their verdant finery of bold and interesting leaves. For a late spring bloomer, some Spirea would be a nice addition. With her sweet little clusters of flowers and the tendency to survive extreme temperature, this gem survived the Oklahoma dust bowl and makes a lovely focal point. Later, the Heavenly Bamboo or Nandina would bloom and look divine. With the cream-colored flowers replaced by berries which turn scarlet by Christmas, they have long been a staple in Southern gardens.


A few Crape Myrtle would add texture, color and a stunning flowering display for all of August through September and the relatively new Black Diamond is striking with her dark purple foliage. If cut back in the early spring, they will bloom as a shrub rather than become a tree. If the tips are trimmed after the first flowering, they will flower again. Pyracantha make a perfect Halloween display as miniature 'pumpkins' dance along the stems. The list is endless!


It is time to plant annuals, those seeded darlings who will provide riotous color all summer, but last only one season. In planting for visual interest it is important to remember to layer by height from the front to the back of the bed. Plan for low growing flowers to be at the front and gradually increase the height to give the visual feel of ‘movement‘.


In an area which receives full sun, tiny low growing Rose Moss or Portulaca are both perfect in front, love it hot, require little care and will provide an ever-blooming cheerful spot of color all season. Behind them, perhaps plant the short variety of Marigolds; they do well in the heat and will also help with insect control as they are a natural pesticide. *Note their funky smelling leaves. Next could come some intermediate then tall Zinnias, and the new varieties have an amazing spectrum of colors. Allow the imagination to run rampant and have fun... the bees will thank you!

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