Good pond shrubs have colourful or fragrant flowers, distinctive foliage, attractive berries or all three. Their flowers and berries may beckon hummingbirds and butterflies to the water's edge. Their berries may feed birds and wildlife. Good pond shrubs also stabilise pond banks with their extensive root systems. A pond naturally becomes a garden's focal point. Framing it with right shrubs transforms it from landscape centrepiece to landscape masterpiece.
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Coastal sweet pepperbush's (Clethra alnifolia) spicily fragrant summer flower clusters open between mid- and late summer. The white blooms beckon hummingbirds and butterflies. The 4- to 8-foot shrub's tapering, green leaves become golden yellow in fall. Coastal sweet pepperbush thrives in moist, acidic soil and dappled shade. Fragrant buttonbush perfumes wetlands with spherical, pincushionlike flowers. They open along its green-leaved branches in spring and summer. The 1-inch, white blooms yield to brown rough-surfaced, brown fruits. The shrub grows 6 to 8 feet high and wide and likes full sun and moist soil.
Shrubs with Fall Color
Choke cherry (Aronia arbutifolia) pairs white or light pink, spring blooms with glossy, deep green leaves. The thicket-forming, 6- to 10-foot bush peaks with the arrival of its brilliant red, late summer berries and autumn foliage. With sweetener, the lip-puckering fruit makes a preserves ingredient. Red-twig dogwood (Corns sericea) Allemans provides yearlong interest. Its flat clusters of white blooms and dark green, lancelike leaves arrive in spring. Late summer brings its white to blue-tinged berries. Fall adorns it with reddish purple foliage. Its dark red, winter twigs contrast strikingly with snow. The 5-foot-high shrub stabilises pond banks. Both bushes flourish in sun or partial shade and moist soils.
Red Sprite winterberry (Ilex verticillata 'Nana' Red Sprite) grows slowly to 2 1/2 or 3 feet. This glossy, green-leaved holly has modest, white summer blooms. Bright red, bird-sustaining autumn berries adorn pollinated female plants. The fruit is Red Sprite's major ornamental feature. This shrub likes moist or wet, organically rich soil and sun or partial shade. Summer blooming meadowsweet (Spiraea alba), at 3 to 4 feet high, has showy, branch-ending spikes of white florets. Butterflies feed on their nectar. Meadowsweet forms dense thickets of green foliage in sunny spots along streams and lakes. It doesn't tolerate dry soil.
White alder (Clethra barbinervis) stands up to 20 feet high and 15 feet wide. This Japanese and Chinese native has distinctive, gleaming brownish-grey bark. Its glossy, toothed green leaves progress to yellow or red in fall. Mid- and late summer flowers cascade from the ends of its horizontal branches. The white blooms' spicy fragrance is milder than Clethra alnifolia's. Brookside alder's (Alnus serrulata) flood tolerance makes it a suitable pondside bush. This 12- to 20-foot bush shares white alder's shiny brownish-grey bark and glossy, green foliage. Hints of red shade its yellow autumn leaves. Its purple summer flower clusters droop on female plants and stand upright on male ones. Both alders are at home in full sun or partial shade and moist or wet soils.
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- Floridata; Clethra Alnifolia; Steve Christman; August 2003
- Floridata; Cephalanthus Occidentalis; Steve Christman; July 2004
- Missouri Botanical Garden Kemper Center for Home Gardening: Aronia Arbutifolia
- Missouri Botanical Garden Kemper Center for Home Gardening:Cornus Sericea 'Allemans'
- Missouri Botanical Garden Kemper Center for Home Gardening: Ilex Verticillata 'Nana' Red Sprite
- Missouri Botanical Garden Kemper Center for Home Gardening: Spiraea Alba