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Flowers and More: Enjoy 3 Beautiful Seasons from these Shrubs

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.


Multi-Season Shrubs Anchor These Garden Vignettes



Blooms, and then Some—These Shrubs Give More


Abelia x grandiflora 'Kaleidoscope'

Kaleidoscope Abelia

Type: Shrub
Exposure: Full Sun, Full Sun, Part Sun, Part Shade, Morning Sun, Filtered Sun
Zone: 6, 7, 8, 9

view plant

Ceanothus impressus 'Victoria'

Victoria California Lilac

Type: Shrub
Exposure: Full Sun, Full Sun, Part Sun, Afternoon Sun, Reflected Heat
Zone: 7, 8, 9

view plant

Ceanothus x pallidus 'Marie Simon'

Marie Simon California Lilac

Type: Shrub
Exposure: Full Sun, Full Sun, Part Sun, Part Shade, Afternoon Sun, Reflected Heat
Zone: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11

view plant

Choisya ternata 'Sundance'

Sundance Mexican Orange

Type: Shrub
Exposure: Full Sun, Part Sun, Part Shade, Afternoon Sun, Morning Sun, Filtered Sun, Open Shade, Open Shade
Zone: 7, 8, 9, 10

view plant

Choisya x 'Gold Fingers'

Gold Fingers Mexican Orange
Choisya x dewitteana 'Limo'
CHOISYA ARIZONICA X TERNATA 'LIMO'

Type: Shrub
Exposure: Full Sun, Part Sun, Part Shade, Afternoon Sun, Morning Sun, Filtered Sun, Open Shade, Open Shade
Zone: 8, 9, 10

view plant

Cornus sericea 'Hedgerows Gold'

Variegated Red-twig Dogwood

Type: Shrub
Exposure: Full Sun, Full Sun, Part Sun, Part Shade, Morning Sun, Filtered Sun, Open Shade
Zone: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

view plant

Daphne x transatlantica 'Summer Ice'

variegated hybrid daphne

Type: Shrub
Exposure: Full Sun, Part Sun, Part Shade, Full Shade, Morning Sun, Filtered Sun, Open Shade, Open Shade
Zone: 6, 7, 8

view plant

Deutzia gracilis 'Duncan'

Chardonnay Pearls® Slender Deutzia

Type: Shrub
Exposure: Full Sun, Full Sun, Part Sun, Part Shade, Morning Sun, Filtered Sun, Open Shade, Open Shade
Zone: 5, 6, 7, 8

view plant

Hamamelis x intermedia 'Jelena'

Jelena Witchhazel

Type: Shrub, Tree
Exposure: Full Sun, Part Sun, Part Shade, Morning Sun, Filtered Sun, Open Shade, Open Shade
Zone: 6, 7, 8, 9

view plant

Hydrangea paniculata 'Bulk' Quick Fire®

Quick Fire hardy hydrangea

Type: Shrub
Exposure: Full Sun, Full Sun, Part Sun, Part Shade, Morning Sun, Filtered Sun, Open Shade, Open Shade
Zone: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

view plant

Hydrangea quercifolia 'Snow Queen'

Snow Queen Oakleaf Hydrangea

Type: Shrub
Exposure: Morning Sun, Filtered Sun, Open Shade
Zone: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

view plant

Loropetalum chinense var. rubrum 'Fire Dance'

FIredance Fringe Flower

Type: Shrub
Exposure: Full Sun, Full Sun, Part Sun, Part Shade, Morning Sun, Filtered Sun, Open Shade
Zone: 8, 9, 10

view plant

Pittosporum tobira 'Shima'

Creme de Mint Dwarf Mock Orange

Type: Shrub
Exposure: Full Sun, Full Sun, Part Sun, Afternoon Sun, Morning Sun, Filtered Sun, Open Shade
Zone: 8, 9, 10, 11

view plant

Pittosporum tobira 'Tall and Tough'

Japanese mock-orange

Type: Shrub
Exposure: Full Sun, Full Sun, Part Sun, Afternoon Sun, Morning Sun, Filtered Sun
Zone: 7, 8, 9, 10

view plant

Rhododendron 'Medusa'

Medusa rhododendron

Type: Shrub
Exposure: Morning Sun, Filtered Sun, Open Shade
Zone: 7, 8, 9

view plant

Sambucus nigra 'Eva'

Black Lace™ Purple Cutleaf Elderberry

Type: Shrub, Tree
Exposure: Full Sun, Full Sun, Part Sun, Afternoon Sun, Filtered Sun, Open Shade
Zone: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

view plant

Stachyurus praecox

Stachyurus

Type: Shrub
Exposure: Part Sun, Morning Sun, Filtered Sun, Open Shade, Open Shade
Zone: 6, 7, 8, 9

view plant

Weigela florida 'Verweig'

My Monet® Weigela

Type: Shrub
Exposure: Part Sun, Part Shade, Morning Sun, Filtered Sun, Open Shade, Open Shade
Zone: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

view plant

Weigela florida 'Olympiade'

Briant Rubidor Weigela

Type: Shrub
Exposure: Part Sun, Morning Sun, Filtered Sun, Open Shade, Open Shade
Zone: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

view plant
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Published March 15, 2019


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