May 29, 2013
Shrubs With Feathery Foliage
I was calling this the seventy shrub spring - enjoying the alliteration - but we've planted over eighty by now. Included in that number are some with feathery leaves that sway in the breeze and add movement to the view, even when birds and butterflies aren't around. Above is a shot of newly emerging leaves on one of the two 'Sutherland Gold' elderberries (Sambucus, 6-10' tall/wide, full or partial sun) we planted by the swing set. You can see the new foliage is copper before it brightens to gold.
I also found room for a 'Black Lace' elderberry (Sambucus, 6-8' tall/wide, full sun), which fits its name well. Finely dissected new leaves are greenish before darkening to almost black. The color is darkest with sull sun and stays more green in partial shade.
In addition to the showy leaves, this shrub makes pinkish flower heads in spring that ripen into berries later in the year.
'Fine Line' buckthorn (Rhamnus, 5-7' tall, 2-3' wide, full sun) is a newer introduction from Monrovia. It's such an interesting shrub. Here are the emerging leaves . . .
. . . and here is what it looks like right now, a month later. This shrub is supposed to turn showy gold in fall before loosing its leaves. I suspect it's one of those super-sturdy, drought-tolerant, hard-to-kill shrubs that make life easier for gardeners. This cultivar doesn't reseed and become invasive like its relatives.
Other gardeners rave about 'Ogon' Spirea (3-5' tall/wide, full sun), even though it gets leggy after a few years and needs to be sheared back occasionally. So I made room for three on the east side of the home. Its bright lime-gold leaves brighten the area, and its leaves are supposed to hang on for a long time in the fall before it goes dormant for winter. Small white flowers bloom in early spring before it leafs out.
We also planted a dwarf Arctic willow (Salix 'Nana', 5-7' tall/wide, full sun). 'We' meaning I picked it out and bought it, then my husband pickaxed a hole in the rocky soil. Thanks honey. Its blue-green leaves will provide a contrast in texture to the giant leaves of an 'Empress Wu' hosta planted nearby, and it can be sheared back annually to produce new branches that hold their maroon coloring through the winter.
After spending many, many hours researching shrubs to find the best ones for my garden, I'm planning to write more about the ones I picked. Stay tuned for posts about viburnums, hydrangeas and a few others.