17 June 2011

Top Five Friday: Flowering Shrubs

God made rainy days so gardeners could get housework done.
~ Author Unknown

Unless of course, the gardener is also a writer.  Rainy days are for writing and reading ~ ahem, I mean research.

Today marks the beginning of a new feature here at La Belle: Top Five Fridays.  Every Friday, I will showcase top five lists in the following arts categories: Food, Gardening, Writing, Music and the Visual Arts.

This week’s top five comes from my love of flowering shrubs.  I love these five show stoppers mostly for their vibrant colours and/or their spicy scents.  Flowering shrubs are a Godsend to the gardener: they not only provide colour, but structure as well.  And they bloom every year and need minimal care. 

All links will lead you to Nature Hills Garden Catalog.  I chose to link to them because they are an organic seed and plant catalog, but I have not actually purchased any plants from them as all the flowering shrubs I have were passed down to me.

Top Five Flowering Shrubs

Photo Credit: M. D'Eigh
Ever since I was a little girl, the lilac has been my favorite flower.  If someone brings me a bouquet of lilacs, I know they really know me!  Their very scent heralds the onset of Spring.  Best advice I’ve received about lilacs: wait until they finish blooming and then prune them.  Pruning helps them produce more blooms the following year.


Photo Credit: Adam Hickmott

These luscious, voluptuous blooms are the divas of the garden.  We currently have three mountainous shrubs on the northeast side of the house and they range from lavender to a rich violet-tinged blue.  They make a grand tabletop statement bunched in a large bowl or in a short vase.  Just make sure you get them in water pronto.  I waited too long once and only 3 of the 6 blooms perked back up when I finally placed them in water.  [Don’t ask.]

After the bold hydrangeas, I love peonies for their bright pink colour and mesmerizing scent.  Maybe mine are just quirky, but their heavy little heads are forever bowing and scrapping to some unseen garden royalty.  I come out in the morning, and there they are, dragging the ground in shame, bit of dirt between their petals.  I’ve tried peony brackets, but they simply love to bend to the ground.  If any gardeners out there have any advice, I’d be most grateful!  Bowing and scrapping notwithstanding, peonies make a wonderful addition to the garden.  And you can divide them and share with a fellow gardener.

Photo Credit: M. D'Eigh
Rhododendron
“Rhodies” are the back up singers in this band of diva-ish shrubs ~ but they give you a lot bang for you buck.  Ours live between the Hydrangeas and are also currently in the front of the house, facing southeast.  The shrubs which fast true east fare a little better than the one that faces more south.  Not sure why this is.  But we plan on re-planting them somewhere else and putting in boxwood.  As you can see from this picture, the blossoms are strong in colour, but delicate in shape.  Sadly, one big thunderstorm with heavy sheets of rain washed away all the rhodie blooms. 

Photo credit: Simon Howden
 Lavender
Silly me.  I always thought lavender was an herb, not a shrub.  But these little ladies can get pretty big!  And they bloom year after year.  Bees and butterflies love it ~ and so do I. Especially stuffed in little lacy pillows or in a container of homemade bath salts.  The lavender flower also makes a nice “bow” on a boxed gift. 

What are your top five flowering shrubs and why?

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

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