I wonder if Sesame Street ever filmed a parody of the show “Scrubs” called “Shrubs.” I’d like to see Zach Braff working a nursery with some Muppets, getting all serious about the well-being of their patient, the weeping willow.
“Dr. Dorian, what do we do?”
“Well, Mr. Monster, we’ll have to wait for the test results to come back, but I’m betting that this patient has a bad case of sad.”
“You mean seasonal affective disorder?” (Because Cookie Monster knows all about SAD.)
“No, I mean he’s sad. He’s upset! I may be wrong, but I bet if you shared one of your cookies with him it would cheer him up. What do you think?”
“I think you may be right! Unfortunately, all that’s left are these crumbs that are sticking to my fur. Sorry Mr. Willow! Hospitals make me hungry!”
I’m getting carried away though.
We’re planting a garden and it’s going to be mostly full of shrubs.
There. The topic is out there. Discuss.
In the tour of the property, we mentioned a perennial garden out by the pond that’s full of all sorts of irises and daylilies and crocuses and all that business. We came to the conclusion that this garden needed a serious overhaul due to the state of the garden being in shambles and the fact that from June through to the next spring, it didn’t have much going for it.
So, when all of the shrubs started going on sale at work, some of which were buy one at 5.88, get one free, we decided we’d transform it into a garden with the potential to shine all year round. The nice thing about the shrubs we picked up is a lot of them are coniferous and stay sexy 365 days a year. As far as deciduous ones go, I tried to select ones that retain their sexy for an extended period with berries or leaves that don’t fall as quick, or ones that look nice without any leaves.
In all, we’ve got 16 shrubs going into this thing, some of which might as well be trees since they grow to between 10 and 15 feet.
And guess what?! I’ve got pictures of all of them so you can get an idea of what’s going to go down when it’s planting time.
For now, all I’ve done is taken the time to design a layout for plant placement and dug most of the area up, save for some bulbs I’ll have to transplant to reuse later. It’ll be a work in progress since I don’t want to plant for another couple weeks when it gets a little cooler.
By the way, for those of you who are gardeners, Cassie and I are new to this, so feel free to lend any kind of advice about our selection of plants and their habits and if any of these are going to clash with respects to their neighbours or location. We’re ultimately just trusting tags and doing a little more research on here to figure things out.
Let’s see some plants, though! I’m going to give a little info on each of the plants, so if you’re interested, read on, if not, just look at the pretty pictures!
So! These first three, from left to right, are a Lynwood Gold Forsythia, Cranberry Cotoneaster, and Dwarf Burning Bush.
The forsythia is a deciduous shrub and is actually one of the ones that I decided to leave out of the garden. A lot of different places state that forsythias are best used as a stand-alone shrub so I figured we’d save that and give it some space somewhere else on the property. Generally they grow between 8 and 10 feet tall and are bright yellow, so it should stand out no matter where we put it!
The cotoneaster is a low growing conifer that ends up littered with red berries in the fall/winter which will be great for feeding/attracting birds to the garden. They usually spread out to between 3 and 6 feet and don’t get much higher than 3 feet, so it’ll be great in the front of the bed.
The burning bush is another deciduous shrub that we’ve decided to put off to the far left as another piece in the back of the garden. It’ll grow upwards of 6 feet and grow to the same width, and in the fall they turn a vibrant red (hence the “burning” part), so it should contrast well with the green azalea and green boxwood in front of it.
The next three, from left to right, are two Winter Gem Boxwoods and a Goldmound Spirea.
The boxwoods are conifers and will be planted on either side of the garden for a slight bit of evergreen symmetry and will not be shaped like people tend to. If you look in front of people’s houses/businesses and see a green shaped hedge, it’s almost always either boxwood or a yew. Cassie and I don’t play that. We’d like the boxwoods to do their natural shape thing, which will look like what you see, but be about 2 feet high and just as wide.
The spirea is another smaller front of the bed shrub, growing from 2 to 3 feet tall and wide. It’s a deciduous shrub that won’t have much appeal in the winter, but in the summer it grows little clusters of purple flowers like so.
The next few are a Black Knight Butterfly Bush, an Emerald ‘N Gold Euonymus and an Emerald Gaiety Euonymus .
The butterfly bush is a great choice for a couple reasons, which is why we always sell out of them quick. The first is that their conical dark purple flowers smell amazing. They’re similar to lilac, but sweeter. The second is that they attract, as the name suggests, butterflies. They’re also good for attracting hummingbirds as well. This baby grows to between 5 and 7 feet, which made it well suited to hang out in the back of class.
The two euonymus are lower growing evergreens with a spreading habit. They’re not quite a ground cover, as they can grow a little tall, but I’d like to keep them trimmed down low enough that they were relegated to the front lines.
Next in line, left to right, are two Holly and a Golden Privet.
Most of the time, holly need one male and one female plant to pollenate each other and produce berries, but I’m starting to think the Blue Maid variety are self-pollenating. Either way, it’s growing berries on it so it’s being pollenated somehow! We’re not going to put both of them in the garden as it would be holly overload, considering they grow to about 15 feet tall and 6 to 8 feet wide, so we’re just going to use the one with the berries for the full effect. Holly makes us happy because it’s a little touch of Christmas all year round, and we heart Christmas!
The privet is a semi-evergreen, which means in warmer winter climates it’ll keep its leaves all year. In ours they’re bound to fall off, but for the time being, they’re going to be a bright, happy yellow. The golden privet grows to about 10 feet or so, making it another perfect specimen for the back row.
The two shrubs in this picture are a Crimson Pygmy Barberry and a ‘Girard’s Rose’ Azalea.
The barberry isn’t the most pleasant plant to get close to as it is extremely thorny, but it’s vibrant crimson colour it takes on in the fall and carries into winter is awesome. Another shorter shrub, the barberry tops out around 2 feet tall and just as wide.
The azalea we chose grows insanely beautiful pink flowers mid-spring and since Cassie is a huge fan of pink, it was tough to resist. It’s also an evergreen, so it’s going to keep that nice emerald green colour all year! It’s another shorter one at 2 feet tall and 2-3 feet wide.
These next two are the ones I am most excited about. On the left is a Miss Canada Lilac and on the right is a Royal Purple Smoke Tree.
The lilac, nationality aside, is exciting because I grew up with loads of lilacs around my home. Not quite the pink that the Miss Canada displays, but it’s the smell that really does it for me; so sweet and nostalgic. This gal is going to grow anywhere between 6 and 10 feet tall, so to the back she goes!
The smoke tree I did not grow up with and didn’t even know about it until recently. It’s just so incredibly fascinating that a plant can grow in a form that makes it look like smoke. And not just any smoke, but purple smoke! This is going to be the biggest out of all of them at 15 feet tall and 12 feet wide, so we’re giving it ample space.
The last blurry mess of a picture is of a Sea Green Juniper.
Two things that fascinate me about the juniper is that one, gin is made from the berries it produces, and two, these berries are also used as a spice, mainly to accent meat, like venison. I always hated handling junipers at work because when they prick you, they hurt and they leave a small rash on your arm. They have the potential to look so beautiful though, so I decided to toss it in under the smoke tree. The dark purple of the smoke tree and the sea green of the juniper should complement each other super well.
There’s one shrub that we’re going to be adding that wasn’t one we bought and it already exists on the property. The location Cassie’s parents planted it doesn’t seem to be too kind to it, so we thought we’d try moving it to have fun with some new friends.
The name of the shrub is Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick or Contorted Filbert. It’s a deciduous shrub, but the branches on this thing grow super gnarly and twisted and the bark is a light yellow, so in the winter it really stands out. At the moment, it’s only about 2 feet tall, but they tend to grow 8-10 feet, so we’re going to put it in the back and hope that it likes it’s place!
All of the shrubs aside, we also plan on sprinkling some perennials in there, hence the yellow unmarked circles in the diagram. I’d ultimately like to plant perennials that have a purpose that reaches beyond looking pretty. Like echinacea and bee balm for teas. So, we’ll probably lean toward those. The green unmarked circles are the herbs we use most that we’d like to add to the landscape. For the ones that aren’t perennial, we’ll just plant from seed and throw in every spring.
I’m really excited to get all of these plants in the ground because I’m really excited to watch them grow over the years and see how they fill in and maintain them so that they complement each other well. I think this is one of the most exciting aspects of home ownership for me is the longevity and the evolution of it all.