After writing about perennials that we grow on the farm, some that love shade and many that thrive in full sun, I would be remiss not to mention the flowering shrubs that provide the backbone of our market bouquets through their foliage and filler flowers. This is not an exhaustive list of shrubbery. However, it is a good start. We have all of these plants on the farm and appreciate their beauty. I am thankful for my good friend Sarah Davis, a former landscape architect with an extensive knowledge of plants, who, many years ago, walked me through our land, helped me identify each plant, and told me how to care for it.
Pieris. Let's start with this beauty. I love pieris as it is one of the first blooms we get in the spring. Those little bells are amazing and that pink is gorgeous, especially when you are tired of grey and brown days. I prune it back after it blooms and let it be. It is low-maintenance and easy to grow.
Camellia. This plant is also one of the first to bloom in the early spring and late winter. Its hot pink blooms against the green foliage are always a happy site. I would like to add camellias with softer pink and white tones one day. Make sure they get enough sun, though they can tolerate some shade.
Spirea. A cascading fall of small white flowers, this bush is magnificent in spring. Unfortunately, this year we had a late frost that killed most of the tiny buds that were close to blooming. I missed seeing it in its glory but know that it will bounce back and have the opportunity to provide many blooms next year. I haven't trimmed it recently, but spirea do well with regular pruning. Prune the tips it after it blossoms, and cut it back in the fall to encourage growth in the spring.
Hydrangea. I mentioned this plant in the post on shade-loving plants. Our neighbor gifted many of our current hydrangea plants to us from divisions he made to his beloved hydrangeas. We are thankful for these beauties that are now mature and about to pump out the blooms.
Baby Joe Pye weed. This plant was a recommendation from my friend Sarah who I mentioned above. When I asked her about additional plants that would be hardy but also have beautiful blooms, she mentioned Baby Joe Pye weed, in addition to Baptisia (below). The regular Joe Pye weed can get quite big, but the Baby Joe is more compact. The plant dies back to the ground in the fall, but comes up each spring. It is low-maintenance. It has beautiful pink umbrel-shaped blooms that butterflies and bees love.
Baptisia (Wild Indigo). I have enjoyed using this spike-shaped flower in bouquets this spring. It has added beauty and interest. The foliage is crisp and lush. I was able to add additional baptisia to our farm from my parents' yard where it is happily growing, though, as a rule, it does not like to be disturbed. It is slow to get established but, once established, is drought-tolerant, easy to care for, and long-lived.
Lilac. Our lilacs have a story, just like many of our plants. They were planted behind some other shrubs around our house and ended up being shaded and almost covered. They grew tall and straight and didn't have a chance to blossom. We transplanted them to a sunny spot on the farm, pruned them down, and got to experience their first blooms this year. They smelled amazing!
Ninebark. Ninebark has been a wonderful addition this spring. I love the dark foliage and the dusty pink blooms. Ninebark comes in many beautiful varieties. We added a Tiny Wine Gold variety this spring to complement the Diabolo variety. This shrub is maintenance-free. We make sure to add compost in the fall and mulch it well in the spring.
Itea (Virginia Sweetspire). A bottlebrush-type flower, this one will be covered in small, white blossoms soon. The foliage dies back each winter but comes back strong in the spring. Another maintenance-free gem, it is a great addition to landscape or a flower farm.
Beautyberry Bush. A new addition this spring, I am interested to see how this bush does and what the foliage and berries look like. So far, like any newly planted bush, I water it regularly, mulch the plant, and will feed it this fall with compost. The variety we have is Pearl Glam.
Snowberry. This is also a new plant for us. I planted two this spring and can't wait to see the beautiful pink berries. We have Pinky Promise.
What are your favorite shrubs for foliage and filler flowers? Are there any that you would recommend adding to this list? Let me know. I may have to add it to the farm.