Plan for the future when planting a new shrub

By Bev Johnson

Master Gardener

The last edition of the Northern Gardener magazine had a list of uncommon shrubs for zone 3. If your estate needs a bit of a tune up, perhaps you should look into one of these.

Aronia or black chokeberry is a 6X6 foot shrub with white flowers in the spring and black berries in the fall. The berries make great jelly if you can beat the birds to them. The library has them growing in their planting beds. These shrubs sucker into a real thicket, making for a great place for birds to hide out.

Another Aronia, called Ground Hug (UNCONNAMo120 ) is meant to be a woody ground cover. It is 8 to 14 inches tall and about 3 feet wide. Like all the Aronias, it is salt and drought tolerant. This one however is native to swamps. If, as the article suggests, you line your driveway with them, they don’t mind being covered with snow. Not sure if this is the best idea as it suckers like mad and, after all, it is a ground cover. This pretty white flowering shrub could take over the yard.

Low Scape Mound (UNCONNAM165) doesn’t sucker, it forms 1- to 2-foot-tall mounds. This one can be used for edging or in contrast if you must have ornamental grasses.

Another Aronia is Low Scape Snowfire (SMNAMPEM ) (PW). Its 4X4, covered with white flowers for the pollinators and with fire red foliage in the fall. This is a native and is suggested as an alternative to the burning bush. This one isn’t out yet, but worth watching for.

If you want a fluffy yellow/green shrub to contrast with a dark green or purple shrub, or in front of a tree those colors, Dwarf birch Creskey Gold is the one to look for. 4 feet tall and 3 wide, the small yellow leaves look like they were edged with pinking shears. It needs full sun to keep the chartreuse color.

Another shrub that makes a great contrast to dark purple or green plants is a willow. Iceberg alley Sageleaf willow to be exact. The foliage is a powdery silver. The catkins have red stamens, then yellow pollen. It would be great in a rain garden as like most willows it likes moist soil. About 2 ft tall and 5 feet wide.

Need an evergreen shrub for a steep slope? Siberian Cypress Celtic Pride may be just the thing. Only 2 feet tall but 5 feet wide, it has a ferny look to its leaves. Will grow in partial shade in well drained soil, just what you would find on a steep slope. It’s hardy to zone 2.

How about a shrub that develops pretty pink berries on blue/green foliage? Perfect for fall bouquets.  Proud Berry, Coral Berry is 4X4 . A nice contrast from all the fall yellow and red. She is well behaved, doesn’t sucker.

A multi colored shrub is MR.Mustard,  sorbaria sorbifolia (SMNSSC0 ) (PW). It has white flowers and yellow, orange, red, pink and light green spring color. About3X4. Bad habits are suckering and needing pruning to keep it under control.

Another suckering shrub is the Ash leaf Spirea. The name is deceiving as it is neither an ash nor a spirea. The flowers look like fluffy white, early summer spirea flowers. The leaves look like palm fronds and are muliti- colored when they emerge in the early spring. Eventually they turn green. This is another zone 2 shrub. It grows to 6X6 and suckers like mad.  Plant it in the lawn and you can mow the suckers off.

Go wild, plant a new shrub.