Small yards are becoming the norm as lot sizes shrink. This means that to add colour and texture to your landscape, smaller plants are the order of the day. And smaller gardens also means the plants you choose must be able to supply season-long interest with interesting foliage, colour, texture and bloom. Plant breeders and nurseries have responded to this trend with the introduction or reintroduction of smaller interesting double-duty shrubs.
Design tip: shrubs with purple foliage are best set off when placed slightly in front of or beside those with variegated or golden foliage.
Incrediball hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens Abetwo) is a much-improved version of the older Annabelle hydrangea. It has enormous round white flower heads up to 30 centimetres across produced on the current seasons growth in late summer. The flowers open green, mature to white, dry in place (or in a vase indoors) and provide beauty through the winter landscape. Grow it in sun or partial shade out of the wind with even moisture. Zone 3
Bobo hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata ILVOBO) is a mounded dwarf shrub of only three feet in height and width with white panicles, again produced on new wood. It does best in shade or partial shade with even moisture. Zone 3
Little Quick Fire hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata SMHPLQF) is upright, dwarf (three feet tall and wide) with pinkish white lacecap flowers produced on new wood. Grow it in sun or partial shade out of the wind with even moisture. Zone 3
Tiny Wine ninebark (physocarpus opulifolius SMPOTW) is one of the smaller ninebarks yet released at four feet in height and width. The delicate white and pink flowers in late spring are a lovely contrast to the dark purple foliage. The flowers are followed by reddish flattened seed clusters. Place in full sun. Zone 3
Sunny Outlook ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius Podarus 3) is an upright rounded ninebarkand is only four by three feet tall and wide. It has fluorescent gold foliage and white flowers followed by red seed pods. Place it in full sun in well-drained soil. It is drought-tolerant once established. Zone 3
Mandarin Tango potentilla (Potentilla fruticosa Jefman) is only two feet tall and wide with mandarin-orange flowers with a touch of red. It flowers profusely, is round, compact and tidy. Place it in full sun. Zone 2
Red Robin potentilla (Potentilla fruticosa) forms a dense mounding shrub only two feet in height and spread with a long blooming period from late spring to early fall. Place it in full sun to partial shade. Once established, it is drought-tolerant. Zone 3
Fairy Queen spiraea (Spiraea trichocarpa x S. triloba) was originally introduced by Dr. Frank Skinner of Dropmore, Man. in 1961. He described it as "hardy, dwarf, white and free flowering." It is a compact (three feet in height and width), spreading shrub with upright branches covered in pure white flowers in late spring. Plant it in full sun for best flowering. It is drought-tolerant once established. Zone 3
Glow Girl spiraea (Spiraea betulifolia Tor Gold) is a golden version of Tor spiraea with intense lemon-lime foliage that turns a soft warm orange in fall and has pink buds that open into bright white flowers in late spring. It forms a compact mound. Plant it in full sun for best flowering. 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.