The Q&A Archives: Flowering Hedges

Question: I would like to plant a flowering hedge at the north end of my house. The soil appears to be quite wet and the location is always in fairly deep shade. I would like to add color to this location with a hedge that produces flowers or berries or perhaps bright colored leaves. Do you have any suggestions for me? Thank you.

Answer: If you need a reliable shrub for deep shade with moist soil, consider hobblebush viburnum (V. alnifolium). Nannyberry viburnum (V. lentago) is another shrub that enjoys moist shade, but it can also adapt to sun and dry soil. It has creamy-white lacecap flowers in mid- to late May. Its fruit -- T1/2 inch drupes -- turns shades of yellow, rose, pink, and finally, bluish-black. Sometimes all shades are showing at once.

Hardy Summersweet (Clethra alnifolia) is a carefree shrub that no garden should be without. One of the best native American shrubs, Summersweet has everything. Carefree, with sweet smelling summer blooms of pink, white, or deep-rose, Summersweet is pest and disease free. Beautiful when planted in mass or as a foundation plant. Prefers slightly acid, sandy soil and full sun, but tolerates clay and dense shade. Late summer/early fall bloom. Zone: 3-9. Height: 4-6 feet.

Oak-Leaf Hydrangea (H. quercifolia ?Snow Queen?): What is not to like about the Oak-Leaf Hydrangea? Dark green leathery leaves and huge 12 to 15 inch panicles of snow-white blooms just begin to appear when the summer garden is beginning to look spent. A vigorous grower to 10 feet high, it is highly pest and disease resistant, and thrives in full sun or deep shade. In fall, foliage turns a deep rich burgundy, and in winter, the exposed bark and dried flower heads are eye-catching. For the smaller garden consider H. quercifolia ('Pee Wee'), which grows a mere 4 feet high and 3 feet wide. Plant in mass, about 4 feet apart. Zone: 5-9.

Hope one of these suggestions is just right for your garden!

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