Monthly Archives: September 2015
"How do I choose shrubs for the landscape?" This is a great question that we get asked all the time here at Nature Hills. People want to have a beautiful yard and want to make sure that they're spending their money on the right thing. We get it. In the end, the plants you pick are a personal choice of course. Some people love roses and their yard wouldn't be complete without them. Other people hate the upkeep and scent. Some people want one of everything they see in the garden center. Some people only want three types of plants in their whole landscape for a 'clean' look. To each his own.
Here are a few suggestions, though, to get you pointed in the right direction:
1) For year-round interest or an ornamental and creative attraction, combine deciduous and evergreen species, shrubs that bloom at different seasons, or add flowering perennial shrubs to a typically green border.
2) Choose a variety of shrub shapes or create your own shapes with careful pruning. You want to combine different shapes and textures - spiky leaves next to round leaves for instance.
3) Add a 'star'. Provide a colorful focal point in your shade landscape by planting viburnums, rhododendrons, or azaleas, for instance.
4) Shrubs are workhorses. Think about what you want the shrub to do. They can define the border of your property, hide an exposed foundation on your house, or block an unwanted view.
5) Look for shrubs with multi-seasonal interest, especially for use as accents or specimens. For instance, oak-leaved hydrangea has beautiful flowers all summer and interesting oak-leaf shaped leaves that turn purple in fall. Its showy clusters of off-white flowers dry on the plant and persist well into the winter, giving it a cool silhouette in the snow.
Lots of plants look great year round. Some have berries instead of flowers. Once you have these few ideas thought through, then spend some time researching plants that fit the bill. You'll have an outstanding yard in no time!
In the fall, gardens are full of both asters and butterflies. There are lots of the white cabbage-type butterflies that have been around since early spring, monarchs preparing for their long journey south, yellow sulphurs doing their swirling dance in the air and scads of tiny brownish-orange butterflies whose names I don't even know. About once a day a red admiral or two pops through, flying quickly and never stopping anywhere very long. The butterflies land on the few flowerheads left on the butterfly bushes, then move on to the hundreds of small, daisy-like blossoms adorning the various asters. The colorful flyers seem especially partial to the taller aster varieties...maybe because those statuesque plants are closer to the sky? The lower growing asters, like those of the Woods series (Woods Blue, Woods Pink, etc.), also see their fair share of butterflies, skippers and pollinating insects.
Many asters have a tendency to self seed, which is a good thing. It's easy enough to grub out or transplant the surplus seedlings in the spring and summer, and having an every-increasing supply of these beautiful plants is a blessing in the fall. There will come a day, not long from now, when the asters fade and the butterflies are suddenly gone, and the growing season will begin to draw to a close. Thinking of that time coming soon makes both plants and insects seem even more beautiful right now.