Answer: Aside from azaleas of all sorts, you might consider Summersweet Clethra (Clethra alnifolia), an excellent shrub for year around interest offering fragrant flowers, attractive leaves and interesting form. Its upright growth reaching 3-8 feet tall makes it appropriate for narrow spaces such as next to home foundations or in perennial borders.
Summersweet's finest attributes are its shade tolerance and its late season, long lasting and fragrant flowers. The flowers of white, pink or rose appear when few other plants are blooming in July through August. It has few insect and disease problems but thrives best in moist acidic soils.
Some of Summersweet's notable cultivars include 'Hummingbird' with its 3-4 feet tall low mound and abundantly produced white flowers. 'Rosea' has glossy leaves and pink flowers.
Or, Witch Alder (Fothergilla gardenii) is a slow growing shrub only reaching 2-3 feet tall with a compact mounded habit. Another shrub with year around appeal, fothergilla has fragrant flowers of cream colored bottlebrushes. It is also flowering now before the leaves appear. It has magnificent fall color of yellow, orange and crimson and will grow in sun or shade. Fothergilla works in nicely with rhododendrons or as a foundation plant. 'Blue Mist' is a very attractive cultivar with blue green leaves.
Hope one of these plants is just right for your garden!
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