The Q&A Archives: A Shrub for All Seasons

Question: The shaded, northeast corner of our brown frame home needs a focal point in the way of a 4-6' shrub. A big pine tree was once there; the stump was ground up but the area is still heavily acidic. Could you suggest a shrub that would provide year-round interest (fruit for birds, flowers, attractive form), be carefree and be attractive with the brown background?

Answer: Highbush cranberry (Viburnum trilobum) and staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina) provide all of the above, and are easy to grow. I especially love the color of the autumn leaves of sumac, which would be stunning against the dark brown siding. Both bear fruit that persists through the winter and provides food for birds. Sumac forms root suckers and can be invasive, but they are easy enough to control with regular mowing. Dwarf burning bush is another option, too.

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