If you’re looking to add some heft to the spring garden but don’t want to overwhelm genteel bulbs or ephemeral perennials, then spring-flowering dwarf shrubs are the answer. These little powerhouses are quick to put on new growth in the early part of the season and often sport blossoms in soft hues that will complement the pastel colors that dominate May and June. Today’s requirements are simple: the shrubs mentioned must stay under 3 to 4 feet tall and wide and must flower before the summer solstice. You might think this is a tall order for any plant to fill (Peter certainly thinks so), but a surprising number of candidates are up to the challenge.
Expert guest: Julie Lane Gay is a garden designer and horticultural writer in British Columbia.
Yuki Cherry Blossom® deutzia (Deutzia ‘NCDX2’, Zones 5–8)
Baby Kim® lilac (Syringa ‘SMNSDTP’, Zones 3–8)
‘Cora Louise’ Itoh peony (Paeonia ‘Cora Louise’, Zones 4–9)
‘Jim’s Pride’ daphne (Daphne × transatlantica ‘Jim’s Pride’, Zones 5–9)
Perpetua® blueberry (Vaccinium ‘ORUS-61-1’, Zones 4–8)
Dwarf red-leaved sand cherry (Prunus × cistena, Zones 2–8)
Sugar Baby® forsythia (Forsythia × intermedia ‘NIMBUS’, Zones 5–8)
Double Play® Candy Corn® spirea (Spiraea japonica ‘NCSX1’, Zones 4–8)
Dwarf sweet box (Sarcococca hookeriana var. humilis, Zones 6–9)
Eternal Fragrance® daphne (Daphne × transatlantica ‘Blafra’, Zones 5–9)
‘Wabi-Sabi’ dwarf viburnum (Viburnum plicatum f. tomentosum ‘Wabi-Sabi’, Zones 5–8)
Check out expert Julie Lane Gay’s article on dwarf shrubs: Surprising Shrubs for Small Spaces