Podcast: Let's Argue About Plants

Episode 29: Unique Shrubs

The foliage of these woodies sets them apart from the rest

Evergreens are great. They have a year-round presence, hide unsightly foundations, and provide clippings for holiday decorations. But many are, well, a boring green. This episode explores the world of shrubs that sport interesting or unique foliage. Whether they have intense variegation, a hue that is as fiery as a sunset, or simply just a fine texture that makes them alluring, these shrubs are standouts. Why plant a green meatball when you can plant a hydrangea that has tricolor leaves? We also got one of the East Coast’s premier shrub experts, Andy Brand of the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, to share some of his favorite unique shrubs. Have you ever heard of ‘Pucker Up’ dogwood? We hadn’t either!



Did you know that there’s more to ninebarks than just burgundy foliage? Coppertina® ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Mindia’, Zones 3–7) has a brilliant shimmer that is unique. It can appear red, orange, and gold depending on the light.


Bigleaf hydrangeas can’t always be counted on to actually bloom each year—particularly in cooler zones. Steve says that if ‘New Wave’ hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla ‘New Wave’, Zones 6–9) never blooms, it won’t matter because its multicolor leaves are beautiful enough.


It’s variegated, it’s a dwarf, and it blooms prolifically in spring. Creme Fraiche® deutzia (Deutzia gracilis ‘Mincream’, Zones 5–8) packs a lot of great traits into a tiny package.


Although black willow (Salix nigra, Zones 4–9) may not be the type of shrub that pops to mind when talking about “unique shrubs,” its texture is unbeatable.

View Comments


  1. nwphillygardener 01/01/2019

    Your lead in text had me confused, I must say. "Evergreens are great" but the article focuses on deciduous shrubs. There are indeed variegated evergreens, as there are also non-variegated evergreens that offer alternatives to "boring green." That's what I imagined would follow…...

  2. User avater
    LauraWilliams 01/15/2019

    Wow so amazing!!

  3. User avater
    DeweyMessier 01/16/2019

    Love it!

  4. User avater
    BenjaminShaw 01/17/2019

    Great work!

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    KennethNguyen 01/23/2019


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    SamBaker 01/23/2019


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    CynthiaDow 01/24/2019

    like it

  8. User avater
    LouisJimenez 01/28/2019


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    devinkoblas 01/28/2019


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    MarkParker 02/02/2019


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    DanielTaylorr 02/02/2019

    It's amazing!

  12. User avater
    JimmyCox 02/21/2019

    its real natural beauty

  13. User avater
    KevinHuggins 03/02/2019


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    RonaldTague 03/08/2019


  15. User avater
    JohnPrice6 05/15/2019


  16. User avater
    ArmandLewis 05/16/2019


  17. User avater
    AnnaMartinez 06/03/2019

    Wow! so nice!

  18. User avater
    PatrickMclaren 08/14/2019

    I love nature

  19. User avater
    RodgerMckinley 09/19/2019

    It's fantastic!

  20. User avater
    AshlieDPerron 10/12/2019

    I love nature!

  21. User avater
    JakeHouck 11/09/2019

    I love this garden!

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