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Summer Shrubs

Michael Weishan visited Tower Hill Botanical Garden in Boylston, Massachusetts, with Joann Vieira, the garden's horticulture director, and found four Best Bets for beautiful summer shrubs.

oakleaf hydrangea

Hydrangea quercifolia

oakleaf hydrangea

A wonderful choice for both its foliage and summer bloom, the oakleaf hydrangea reaches 4 to 5 feet in height when fully mature. Tower Hill is in zone 5, where Joann notes its buds occasionally die back in the winter. That means you may not get the shrub's tremendous bloom each and every year, but you can always count on its pretty foliage, which goes to deep purple in the autumn. It does well in full sun but is vigorous enough to thrive in partial shade as well.


Caryopteris x clandonensis

'Worcester Gold'

One of Michael's favorite shrubs, bluebeard is an attractive fixture in the Victory Garden. The wonderful bright color holds all season long, followed by a flourish of baby-blue blossoms, similar to the lily of the Nile, which forms a gorgeous contrast with the yellow foliage. Very easy to care for, this shrub can handle fairly dry soil and full sun.

rose of Sharon

Hibiscus syriacus

'Oisneau Bleu'
rose of Sharon

Although this hibiscus, with its large delicate blossoms, looks like it might be a bit fussy to care for, Joann says it's actually very low-maintenance. As opposed to the older, more gangly treelike cultivars of hibiscus, 'Blue Bird' holds its compact shape without much pruning. When in full bloom, the shrub becomes a wonderful mass of blue for weeks.

butterfly bush

Buddleia davidii

butterfly bush

Popularly known in a different form, this variety of butterfly bush, called 'Harlequin,' boasts richly variegated leaves. Its flowers are ruby red and are very attractive to butterflies, as its name suggests, but the foliage alone gives this plant a great deal of interest even when not in bloom — another great choice to liven up any garden corner.

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This segment appears in show #2714.

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Published August 31, 2007