The fastest way to en­hance your land­scape and boost your bloom count is to plant easy-care flow­er­ing shrubs now. A spring­time trim is all that’s re­quired for a ver­i­ta­ble flurry of petals from early sum­mer un­til frost. Here are four we love.

Canadian Living - - Contents - TEXT STEPHEN WEST­COTT- GRATTON

Four low-main­te­nance flow­er­ing shrubs we love

In­vin­ci­belle Se­ries smooth hy­drangea ( Hy­drangeaar­borescens

[In­vin­ci­belle Se­ries] cul­ti­vars), Zone 3 In­vin­ci­belle Se­ries hy­drangeas are sim­i­lar to tra­di­tional ‘Annabelle’ types but bear larger blooms on stronger stems. Avail­able in five colours, they flower con­tin­u­ously from mid­sum­mer to frost. Grow­ing best in good gar­den loam in a sunny lo­ca­tion, they should be pruned to within five cen­time­tres of their bases in late win­ter or early spring.

In­vin­ci­belle Spirit II (‘NCHA2’) bears pink flow­ers that age to green, while In­vin­ci­belle Ruby (‘NCHA3’) pro­duces bi­coloured ruby and sil­ver-pink blooms; both grow 90 cen­time­tres tall and wide. Dwarf In­vin­ci­belle Wee White (‘NCHA5’) grows 50 cen­time­tres tall and wide with white flow­ers that age to pale pink and green. Mini Mau­vette (‘NCHA7’) bears mauve blooms, while Limetta (‘NCHA8’) opens with cool lime flow­ers that fade to icy green­ish-white and then ma­ture to a deep jade; both grow 75 cen­time­tres tall and wide.

Dou­ble Play Se­ries Ja­panese spirea ( Spiræa­japon­ica [Dou­ble

Play Se­ries] cvs.), Zone 4 Em­braced by gar­den­ers for their pink, red and pur­ple flow­ers that ap­pear mid­sum­mer af­ter many shrubs have stopped bloom­ing, Dou­ble Play cul­ti­vars grow about 60 cen­time­tres tall and wide and pre­fer a sunny site in good gar­den loam. They should be pruned back to about 30 cen­time­tres tall in early spring.

We love Dou­ble Play Painted Lady (‘Min­spi’) for its var­ie­gated yel­low and green fo­liage and hot-pink flow­ers, as well as Dou­ble Play Candy Corn (‘NCSX1’), which pro­duces leaves that open red and then fade to yel­low; sum­mer fo­liage emerges or­ange and is crowned with pur­ple flow­ers. The fo­liage of Dou­ble Play Pink (‘SMNSJMFP’) and Dou­ble Play Red (‘SMNSJMFR’) emerges red but turns green by flow­er­ing time. Pink-flow­ered Dou­ble Play Big Bang (‘Tracy’) has golden fo­liage and bears up to 200 flow­ers in each eight-cen­time­tre-wide clus­ter.

Korean abe­lia ( Abe­lia mosa­nen­sis and cvs.), Zone 4 Prized for its ethe­re­ally scented pale pink flow­ers, Korean abe­lia blooms in late spring. Grow­ing 1.5 me­tres tall by one me­tre wide, Abe­lia mosa­nen­sis and its cul­ti­vars pros­per in av­er­age gar­den loam in full-sun to part-shade lo­ca­tions. Flow­er­ing pri­mar­ily on new wood, shrubs should be pruned im­me­di­ately af­ter bloom­ing to main­tain an el­e­gant vase-shaped habit; au­tumn fo­liage turns bril­liant or­ange-red.

At­trac­tive to but­ter­flies and hon­ey­bees, Korean abe­lia is deer- and rab­bit-re­sis­tant. To fully ap­pre­ci­ate their fra­grance, site th­ese bushes un­der open win­dows or pop sev­eral branches into a vase to per­fume your home. In ad­di­tion to the species form, look for vig­or­ous ‘Korean Spring’ (2.5 x 1.8 me­tres), semid­warf Bridal Bou­quet (‘Mo­nia’) as well as jas­mi­nes­cented Sweet Emo­tion (‘SMNAMDS’).

Happy Face Se­ries potentilla

( Po­ten­til­lafru­ti­cosa cvs.), Zone 2 Fa­mous for their long sea­son of bloom, po­ten­til­las bear sin­gle or semi­dou­ble flow­ers with white, pink, yel­low or or­ange-red petals. Most cul­ti­vars grow 60 to 70 cen­time­tres tall and wide and should be sited in a sunny lo­ca­tion in av­er­age gar­den loam. Po­ten­til­las bloom on new wood and should be pruned to shape in early spring.

Use po­ten­til­las as long-flow­er­ing ac­cents in flowerbeds or foun­da­tion plant­ings, in shrub bor­ders, as low hedges or in con­tain­ers where they can be over­win­tered in situ with­out pro­tec­tion in Zone 5 or warmer. Our favourites in­clude semi­dou­ble Happy Face Pink Par­adise (‘Kupinpa’), golden Happy Face Yel­low (‘Lundy’), pleas­antly cool Happy Face White (‘White Lady’) and Man­i­toba-bred Mango Tango (‘Uman’), which bears or­ange flow­ers with ver­mil­lion cen­tres.

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