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This multi-stemmed shrub or tree can reach almost 20 feet tall. At one time, it was used medicinally for many conditions. Its autumn color is bright red or yellow and its small, edible black fruits attract much wildlife.
A native small tree found in wetlands from Minnesota to Florida and from New England to California, buttonbush can reach 8 to 15 feet tall and is often wider than it is tall. Prune it into a small multi-trunked tree to reveal the curly bark of its young stems and the punctuated pale spots of its older stems. Blooms are extremely rich in nectar and attract butterflies and other insects.
This vigorous deciduous shrub provides a long season of interest in the garden with its variegated leaves, attractive berries, pretty fall color, and red winter stems.
These showy shrubs have two distinct phases of garden interest. In winter, they display boldly colorful bark—red, yellow, or orange—on twiggy stems to make a striking scene. In spring, the stems lose their vivid color and produce bright green, gold, or variegated foliage that accents the garden through the fall. Twig and leaf color vary according to the cultivar.
This native shrub dogwood is more compact than the species with semiglossy, emerald green foliage and showy, white fruit. Purple fall leaf color and rosy pink pedicels make this gray dogwood a fine choice for the woodland edge. Its silvery gray bark in winter adds interest into another season. White flowers in the spring add to the list of what it offers. Plant this dogwood in the landscape where it will be seen in the fall and winter. It rarely suckers.
Red osier dogwood is a deciduous shrub with a rounded, spreading form. Opposite leaves with rounded bases are ovate to lance-shaped and dark green, turning a dull red, purple-red, or orange in autumn. Clusters of white flowers appear in late May to early June, followed by white to pale blue fruit. Green stems turn reddish or purple-red from late summer into early fall, becoming brighter in winter.
This perennial shrub or small tree has an upright form that reaches heights of up to 10 feet. It blooms before grayish-green foliage emerges. Leaves mature to bright green and contrast beautifully with one-year-old black bark. Small, attractive black berries appear in autumn.
This ninebark's new leaves unfurl a golden yellow and then mature to a rosy red-burgundy. Clusters of white blooms accompany the dramatic foliage in early summer, followed by bright red seedheads that fade to tan. 'Center Glow' is a fast grower and an ideal candidate for mixed borders or foundation plantings. It grows to 8 to 10 feet tall and almost as wide. In winter, the older stems have attractive peeling bark.
With its upright, arching branches and dark chocolate to purple foliage, Diabolo® ninebark offers a color contrast with silver-leaved plants and makes a fine backdrop hedge. Clusters of button-like, pinkish white flowers appear in summer. Even when they fade to a tawny tone, they stand out nicely against the dark leaves. -Chris McKernan, Regional Picks: Lower Plains, Fine Gardening issue #120
Many gardeners know ninebark as an undistinguished shrub with ordinary green leaves, white flowers, and fall fruit. But 'Seward,' sold under the trademark name Summer WineTM, has outstanding burgundy leaves and pink flowers that bloom in early summer. This plant is super tough and makes a stunning focal point in a summer border.
The yellow to lime green foliage of 'Nugget' ninebark makes an interesting contrast with the exfoliating, cinnamon-colored bark. Clusters of white flowers appear along the stems in early summer, followed by dark brown seed capsules, which add winter interest. Unsheared, the plant has a vase-shaped growth habit. -David Graper, Regional Reports: Upper Plains, Fine Gardening issue #122
This neat, rounded shrub has given rise to many noteworthy cultivars. It grows to 12 feet tall and 10 feet wide, producing drooping clusters of delicate white blossoms in winter and spring. Use this shrub in a woodland, rock garden, container, or as a foundation plant.
This compact, rounded shrub produces reddish-purple buds that first open as soft-pink then mature to white. It grows to about 5 feet high and wide, making it a superb specimen for a container or small garden.
Highbush blueberry provides four seasons of fanfare, starting with twisted, peeling stems in winter; profuse white or pink blossoms in spring; savory blue fruit in summer; and long-lasting foliage the color of a rich red wine in fall. The maroon to scarlet fall shades are effective for a solid month or more, as the leaves (especially in full sun) are reluctant to fall. The best fruit set occurs when you plant at least two cultivars that will bloom concurrently to ensure cross-pollination.
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These vibrant bloomers give even the showiest annuals and perennials a run for their money
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Two experts pick their favorites based on color, shape
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Q&A Moving houseplants outdoors for the summer
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