Planting shrubs with a long summer blooming season is an excellent investment in backyard colour, not to mention your personal cut-flower garden. Most long-blooming bushes can be cared for easily. Before making a major purchase, though, stop by your local nursery or talk with regional Master Gardeners to make sure the bushes you have in mind are suited for the climate and your particular conditions.
Roses & Friends
For sheer beauty and grace, it's hard to beat the hybrid tea rose, which is not nearly as fussy as some people would have you believe. Learn to prune it properly and feed it well, and you're set. But if carefree is the watchword, try the newer shrub roses. Then, there are roselike shrubs, including the drought-tolerant rock rose, which is beautiful and easy to grow, with flowers ranging from white and pink to purple and lavender. Very old-fashioned and even less commonly seen is Rose of Sharon, a member of the Hibiscus family, which in many places blooms in mid- to late summer. Its tropical-looking "roses" range from white, pink and reddish-magenta to lavender-blue, with either single or double flowers. Drought-tolerant Rose of Sharon is slow-growing, but can grow up to 15 feet tall and equally wide---perfect for privacy.
The re-blooming type of hydrangea, or Hydrangea macrophylla, is an old-fashioned cottage garden favourite, a very large shrub with huge, round flower heads that range in colour from sky blue to pale and bright pink. Flower colours vary depending on soil pH, with more acidic (low pH) soil producing blue blooms and alkaline (high pH) soils producing pink flowers. Hydrangeas can grow up to 8 feet tall, and they do best in partial shade in evenly moist, rich, well-drained soil.
Beauty & Beasts
Prolific is the word for the butterfly bush, Buddleia davidii, with large bushy blooms that are irresistible to people as well as butterflies The sun-loving butterfly bush comes in various colours, too, including deep pink, purple, blue, and even one variety with multicoloured tiny blooms on each flower head. Yellow flowering bush honeysuckle is another best bet for attracting butterflies, as is the Potentilla fruticosa.
Sweet & Spicy
Gardenia, an evergreen shrub related to the coffee plant, produces white flowers with the sublime scents of fine perfume. The blooms of mock orange are also spicy and sweet, though the shrub won't bloom all summer in all places---just early summer in some parts of the country. Summer sweet, Clethra alnifolia is another striking summer bloomer, and it will actually thrive and flower in the shade as well as in full sun. It's neat and tidy in the garden, with colourful fall foliage.
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