I love flowers as much as the next gardener—I find the riot of spring blooms pure delight. But I’m a greedy gardener and I want more! At home, and in most of my client gardens, space is at a premium so I try to select plants that will provide enjoyment for multiple seasons—and the larger the plant, the more I expect.
When choosing shrubs, this typically means they’re bringing it with one of more of these attributes:
- Fantastic foliage: an eye-catching solid color; lively variegation; attractive new growth; or perhaps an evolution of varied effects that mark progress of the seasons
- Attractive bark or showy winter stems
- Colorful blooms; with extra credit for blooming in a quiet season
- Pleasant fragrance
- Worthy fall color
If you’re a regular reader, you may recall that I frequently extol the virtues of including plenty of evergreen plants in your garden for their contribution to all-season structure. They have their place and are important, but after a bruising winter such as this last one, it can be nice to get a fresh start with new foliage, unmarred by the ravages of the seasons. As an example, two paths to fresh foliage:
- deciduous shrubs which shed their leaves each year
- evergreen shrubs that respond to being cut back, or even sheared, with a flush of new growth
For example, Abelia, Bupleurum, and Choisya are evergreens that don’t mind being cut back (within reason), providing an opportunity to remove damaged foliage, make room for fresh growth, and as a bonus, allow you to keep their size in-check.
In the slide carousel immediately below, you'll find garden vignettes built around hardworking, multi-season shrubs like these. Further down, I've assembled a collection of individual plants that do the same— if you click through, you'll find plant combo ideas that include them.