As people from rural areas move to cities and towns with more limited space in which to garden, and urban lot sizes decrease, the demand for smaller shrubs has increased. Nurseries have been meeting this need with new introductions as well as the reintroduction of some fine older shrubs that seemingly got lost in the shuffle.
Here is a selection from various nursery catalogues from across the prairies. Many provide a long season of foliage colour and texture, others a burst of flowers, and a few give both foliage and floral interest through a long season.
(Note that Agriculture Canada hardiness zones have changed. Whereas Saskatoon has been in zone 2b for decades, it is now classified as zone 3b.)
Little Lady lilac (Syringa x Jeflady) combines the large fragrant flower panicles of Miss Kim with the dwarf compact habit of Syringa meyeri, the dwarf Korean lilac. The flowers are pink and the shrub reaches only four to five feet in height. Plant it in full sun in well-drained soil. Zone 2
Avalanche French lilac (Syringa vulgaris Avalanche) is indeed small for a French lilac at eight by 12 feet. It boasts freely produced pure white fragrant flowers. Plant it in full sun on well-drained soil. Zone 2
Creme de Mint dogwood (Cornus alba Crimzam) is a little over five feet in height and spread. With white variegation on light green leaves, the foliage turns brick red in fall. Clusters of creamy white flowers in late spring are followed by white berries by mid-summer. In winter, the stems and branches are an attractive chartreuse. Place it in sun or partial shade. It is fairly drought tolerant once established. Zone 4
Little Rebel dogwood (Cornus alba Jefreb) is a rounded compact shrub of only three by three feet with crisp green foliage that turns maroon red in fall. It has excellent red winter stem colour. Place it in sun or partial shade. It is fairly drought tolerant once established. Zone 2
Pucker Up dogwood (Cornus sericea Neil Z.) is about four feet in height and spread. Its dark green "puckered" foliage turns a bright burgundy in fall. The white spring flowers are followed by navy blue fruit in late summer. The scarlet branches add winter interest against the snow. Grow it in sun or partial shade. It is fairly drought tolerant once established. Zone 3
Morden Golden Glow elder (Sambucus racemosa Morden Golden Glow) is only four feet tall and wide. Rounded and compact, it has extremely finely cut golden yellow foliage. White flowers are followed by red berries, much beloved by birds. Plant it in full sun in well drained soil. It is drought tolerant once established. Zone 2
Fireball burning bush (Euonymus alatus Select) is a compact, rounded shrub that is five feet tall by four feet wide. The foliage is a bright golden green through the summer, turning a brilliant red in fall. For best foliage colour, place it in full sun. Zone 3
— This column is provided courtesy of the Saskatchewan Perennial Society (SPS; www.saskperennial.ca; email@example.com; www.facebook.com/saskperennial). Check out our Bulletin Board or Calendar for upcoming garden information sessions, workshops, tours and other events: Don’t forget about GardenScape, March 24-26, at Prairieland Park (www.gardenscapeshow.ca).