Shrubs as specimens, groupings or hedges are a big part of a good landscape plan.
These suggestions are hard workers featuring a variety of shapes and bloom times for three seasons of interest. They have been chosen by Master Gardeners throughout the state and can be successful for the average gardener with little fuss.
Forsythia "Meadowlark" or Forsythia ovata "Meadowlark" brings the bright yellow promise of spring to northern gardeners with its early bloom. Forsythia isn't fussy about soil conditions, although it prefers rich soil. The plants have a naturally arching shape; if pruning is needed, do so in the spring after flowering. The plants prefer sun.
Rhododendron, Northern Lights azalea series developed by the University of Minnesota bring showy, colorful blooms of southern azaleas to northern yards on four- to five-foot course leaved shrubs. They need well-drained, acid soil. Add peat to their soil in spring and keep an organic mulch of pine bark or needles, or oak leaves to retain moisture. They like sun to light shade.
Serviceberry or Amelanchior is a tall, dense shrub bearing white flowers in June, followed by dark berries. It is tolerant to a wide variety of soil conditions, resists disease and has brilliant fall color. It likes sun.
Korean lilac "Miss Kim" or Syringa patula "Miss Kim" is a good choice over the common lilac since it is smaller, around four feet, and resists the mildew that plagues other lilacs. Fragrant blooms come late in spring with light pink flowers contrasting against dark green leaves. It needs only average soil. It likes sun.
Compact viburnum or Viburnum trilobum "Compactum" is a shrub that has it all, vigorous growth with white flower clusters that develop into red berries and good fall color. Also called the American highbush cranberry, it likes slightly acid, moist soil. Some grow over six feet but "Compactum" is a good choice for a smaller area. It likes sun to part shade.
"PeeGee" hydrangea or Hydrangea paniculata "Grandiflora" offers blooms late in the summer. Flowers start as huge conical trusses of double white, which change to pink. Flowering on new growth, this can grow as a shrub or be shaped into a small tree. "PeeGee" can bloom in part shade, but likes a moist rich soil. The flowers can be dried or left on the shrub for winter interest. They like sun to part shade.
These suggestions, and many other hints to help area gardeners, are available from Master Gardeners. Ask a Master Gardener at the Cass County Extension office hortline at (218) 587-8289 in the Pine River calling area or toll-free at 866-587-8281, or call the Yard and Garden Hotline toll-free at 888-624-4771 in greater Minnesota for assistance.
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