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Compact "wow factor" shrubs...suggestions appreciated

Posted by cadillactaste zone 5 Ohio (My Page) on
Tue, Apr 29, 14 at 8:46

I have a long but only 6' wide full sun area. That I am looking to plant some flowering shrubs. Preferably not toxic. I have a book I can reference to check that out.

I am planning on planting a lavender twist in the area. The nursery guy came and felt that it would work there. (But I need other things to go there as well.) Going to plant a blushing bride hibiscus in the vicinity as well.


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RE: Compact "wow factor" shrubs...suggestions appreciated

I am assuming that your soil is not acid and has some clay content based on what the soil was like where I lived in Ohio, so I am not recommending plants that need highly acid soil like blueberries.

Some of the smaller Hydrangea paniculatas such as Little Lamb, Little Lime or Little Quick Fire will work well. They have stiff enough branches to hold up their large heads of flowers, and bloom from early or mid-summer through fall. Color moves from white or light green into pink or red shades as the season progresses.

Some of the shorter hardier Hydrangea macrophylla that are reblooming may work for you if they are hardy enough. I have 'Endless Summer' which stays within your desired size in my garden (though it may get larger in warmer climates), but there are many newer varieties that you can check out.

Spiraea thunbergii 'Ogon' has fine-textured gold foliage,a graceful form and white flowers.

Viburnum plicatum var. tomentosum has several selections that are small enough to fit in your specifications, such as 'Newzam' AKA Newport. They have white spring flowers and red fall foliage.

Forsythia 'Fiesta' has the typical yellow forsythia flowers, but yellow/green variegated foliage and a quite restrained growth habit.

Tiny Wine Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolious) isn't supposed to exceed 5' in width, and the one I have seen is far smaller than any other ninebark I have seen. Reddish quite small foliage, and pinkish white blooms followed by reddish developing seed capsules.

Weigela 'French Lace' has gold/green variegated foliage and deep pink flowers.

Some of the smaller red-twigged dogwoods could be used to add winter interest, such as 'Arctic Sun' and 'Arctic Fire'.

You can ask about evergreens on the conifer forum so that the area isn't too stark during the winter. Often weeping conifers can be trained to a narrow form, and there are many upright selections of evergreens to choose from.

A web search for columnar or fastigiate trees may bring up some trees that are narrow enough to fit in your bed if you would like some more height.

You could also plant clematis on an obelisk. If you plant a hard prune variety and prune it in early winter, the bare trellis will add structure and ornament in the winter.


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RE: Compact "wow factor" shrubs...suggestions appreciated

Thank you so very much! We do have Ohio clay soil but the beds are raised with good topsoil for better planting success. I will check into those and surely will find a good many to go there. I had seen a weeping conifer when we went on vacation that I loved in someone's yard! I forgot about that...


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RE: Compact "wow factor" shrubs...suggestions appreciated

Better than Spirea 'Ogon', which gets quite large--4-5 feet tall and wide, might be Spirea 'Golden Elf', which is essentially a groundcover shrub only 8-10 inches tall. The flowers are, to me, not great, but the foliage is gorgeous.


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RE: Compact "wow factor" shrubs...suggestions appreciated

There's a series of dwarf Oakleaf Hydrangea selections, among them 'Pee Wee', 'Munchkin', and 'Rubykins'. These are Hydrangea quercifolia.

There are a bunch of St. Johns-wort shrubs (Hypericum species); 'Blue Velvet' is an outstanding selection.

There are more than a few Viburnum selections that could play well with others mentioned here. I like Viburnum dentatum 'Little Joe'; Viburnum sargentii 'Chiquita'; Viburnum carlesii 'Compactum'; and Viburnum × 'Conoy'.


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RE: Compact "wow factor" shrubs...suggestions appreciat

Hello old friends! I just got back from a visit to Charleston SC. Some amazing gardens are grown there in very narrow spaces, lots of espaliered plants and geometrical layering. I would pick one or two favorites and then place supporting players. One of my very favorite shrubs is Rhus glabra or smooth sumac. The fuzzy fruits can be used to make a tart lemonade-like drink! It looks a little tropical to me. Planted with hardy hibiscus (H. moschuetos) and cannas you could have a bit of the tropics in your yard. All except the cannas would need to be dug up and replanted every year.

This post was edited by prairiegirlz5 on Tue, May 13, 14 at 7:47


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RE: Compact "wow factor" shrubs...suggestions appreciated

Hello old friend! I just got back from a visit to Charleston SC. Some amazing gardens are grown there in very narrow spaces, lots of espaliered plants and geometrical layering. I would pick one or two favorites and then place supporting players. One of my very favorite shrubs is Rhus glabra or smooth sumac. The fuzzy fruits can be used to make a tart lemonade-like drink! It looks a little tropical to me. Planted with hardy hibiscus (H. moschuetos) and cannas you could have a bit of the tropics in your yard. All except the cannas would need to be dug up and replanted every year.


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RE: Compact "wow factor" shrubs...suggestions appreciated

  • Posted by corrine1 7b Pacific Northwest (My Page) on
    Wed, May 14, 14 at 22:19

Drive around & look for what you like that is growing well in your area. Take photos then you can figure out what they are when you get back home.

In my mind WOW factor =

contrasting foliage & textures: gold with blue, coarse with fine
color echoes such as white flowered shrub with another plant with variegated foliage
keep to only a few colors & repeat, repeat, repeat

To save $ & simplify plant groundcovers between the shrubs, plan some spots where you will add shrubs you propagate from cuttings of the ones you buy. Also vigorous groundcovers can be moved to cover more area further down the bed. Many are easy & fast growers.

Plant for all 4 seasons especially late winter, early spring when you're ready for winter to be over!

Dwarf azaelas for spring color with minor bulbs.

Lavender Twist redbud is one of my favorites. Try underplanting it with Geranium macrorrhizum, the big-root geranium, hot pink or the lighter Bevan's Variety

Hydrangea Pia to 3'x 3', blooms pink paired with Japanese anemone or Oriental lilies behind it.

Berberis has great fall color if you don't mind the thorns and though the blooms are minor, the foliage can be excellent color echoes of the blooming shrubs.

Sounds like a fun garden already.

Don't forget evergreens such as dwarf conifers that are reliable in your area.

Here is a link that might be useful: tough groundcovers


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