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Six Super Shrubs That I'm Growing in my Small PNW Garden

This video is a walk-n-talk through my small garden in Portland, Oregon. In it, you'll see some excellent low-maintenance dwarf flowering shrubs and several of my current favorites for fab foliage.

The video below highlights six shrubs that were looking particularly good on a summer day in July and that have doing very well for me in my USDA zone 8 garden. By no means is it a comprehensive account of what I'm growing, more a set of informal and impromptu comments on a few plants in my backyard garden that seemed to raise their hand to say "pick me" as I strolled my garden that morning.

It's super-challenging to visualize how a plant is going to look in your garden when scanning the myriad options at the garden center. Seeing plants in actual garden situations can be really helpful when trying to decide whether you want to grow them yourself. One of the ways to do that is to visit lots of gardens, but that isn't always practical, so this virtual tour is a good stand-in.

In this video you'll see the shrubs in my real-life garden setting and I'll talk with you about my experience growing it. I'll give you much closer look at mature plants, a lot more information about the plants, and most importantly why I think they're excellent choices!

Why these are top some of my top picks:

  • The shrubs I single out are solid 3-season contributors and/or have evergreen foliage that looks great year-round.
  • In small garden spaces like mine, the perfect plants are often compact flowering shrubs. The dwarf hydrangeas I show you fill the bill splendidly.
  • The benefit of these excellent, low-maintenance shrubs with fab foliage is that they make the most of the small space allotted to them. 

The hydrangeas I mention are widely available and should be relatively easy to find at your local nurseries. The others might take a bit more effort to locate, particularly the Schefflera delavayi. The Schefflera taiwaniana 'Yuan Shan' and Camouflage Fatsia are part of the Hinkley Collection offered by Monrovia, so are becoming more common. Calycanthus 'Aphrodite' is a Proven Winners selection, so it's also getting easier to locate.

The six plants below are excellent shrubs for small gardens. If you click through, you'll find more detailed descriptions as well as ideas of what to plant with them.


Six Super Shrubs I'm Growing in my Small Garden


Calycanthus floridus 'Aphrodite'

Aphrodite Sweetshrub

Type: Shrub
Exposure: Full Sun, Full Sun, Part Sun
Zone: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

view plant

Fatsia japonica 'Variegata' Camouflage

Camouflage™ Variegated Japanese Aralia

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

view plant

Hydrangea paniculata 'Bulk' Quick Fire®

Quick Fire hardy hydrangea

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

view plant

Hydrangea quercifolia 'Sike's Dwarf'

Sike's Dwarf Oakleaf Hydrangea

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

view plant

Schefflera delavayi

Hardy Schefflera

Type: Shrub
Exposure: Part Shade, Full Shade, Morning Sun, Filtered Sun, Open Shade, Open Shade
Zone: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11

view plant

Schefflera taiwaniana 'Yuan Shan'

Hardy Schefflera

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

view plant

If you’d like to see more of my garden and get a better sense of the context within which I’m growing these excellent low-maintenance shrubs, the video below offers behind-the-scenes tour.

Published July 05, 2019


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