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Top Trees and Shrubs for Multi-Season Beauty

Fothergilla: A Shrub That Keeps on Giving

You know how some of those old-timer shrubs in our gardens start looking a little long in the tooth after a couple of decades? Well, I was pleasantly surprised to read that some specimens of Fothergilla, one of my favorite multi-season stars, have been known to look good even after 60 years! That’s the kind of longevity I can get behind.

Fothergilla is a genus of shrubs that’s related to the witch-hazel family, and it displays some of the same charming characteristics as its botanical cousins. I find them to be basically pest and disease-free, requiring very little maintenance beyond the occasional light pruning to tidy things up. And the handsome, slightly bluish-green leaves look good all season long.

As I learned from the good folks at A Way to Garden, there are two main species of Fothergilla: the larger Fothergilla major, which can reach 6 to 10 feet tall and wide, and the more compact Fothergilla gardenii, topping out at around 3 to 5 feet. And in recent years, some hybrid selections called Fothergilla x intermedia have been bred, aiming for traits like smaller, more mounded growth habits and even bluer foliage.

Seasonal Showstoppers

But what really makes Fothergilla shine, in my opinion, is its ability to deliver beautiful displays throughout the growing season. In the spring, the shrub is adorned with creamy white, bottlebrush-shaped flowers that have a lovely, honey-like fragrance. And when autumn rolls around, the leaves put on a fiery show, turning brilliant shades of red, orange, and yellow.

The best part? This fall foliage display tends to come a bit later than many other shrubs and trees, so Fothergilla can keep you company well into the late fall when other plants have already gone to pieces. I’ve got a couple of ‘Mt. Airy’ Fothergillas in my own garden, and they’re always the last holdouts, their vibrant hues warming my heart even as the rest of the landscape starts to go dormant.

As the folks at A Way to Garden note, the cultivar ‘Blue Shadow’ is another stunner, with its bluer-tinted foliage. I must admit, I fell hard for a friend’s ‘Blue Shadow’ a couple of years ago and just had to get one for myself, even though it cost me a pretty penny.

Dealing with Critters

Of course, no garden is complete without its fair share of wildlife visitors, and Fothergilla is no exception. As I learned the hard way, these shrubs can be quite appealing to rabbits, who have a tendency to snip the twigs right down to the ground. And deer aren’t exactly fans, either.

So what’s a gardener to do? Well, I’ve found that the best defense is a good offense – literally. I’ve started building little cages around many of my prized shrubs, including my Fothergillas, to keep the critters at bay. It’s a bit of a pain, having to remember to move the cages around as the plants grow, but it’s a small price to pay to ensure that my multi-season showstoppers stay intact.

And don’t forget, there are also some commercial repellents out there that can help deter deer and other unwanted visitors. As the A Way to Garden article mentions, these can be a bit high-maintenance, with the need to reapply the scent regularly. But if you’re willing to put in the effort, they can be a effective way to protect your plants.

Viburnums: Unsung Heroes of the Garden

When it comes to multi-season beauty, Fothergilla may be the star of the show, but it certainly doesn’t hog the spotlight. There’s another group of shrubs that deserve a standing ovation: the viburnums.

As I learned from the good folks at The Garden Diaries, viburnums are truly the unsung heroes of the garden. They offer something special in every season, from the clusters of fragrant white flowers in spring to the brilliant fall foliage and eye-catching berries.

Spring Blooms and Summer Foliage

In the springtime, many viburnums burst forth with clusters of tiny white flowers that pack a real aromatic punch. The Seven Son Flower (Heptacodium miconioides), for example, is a real showstopper, with its tiered branches adorned with sweetly scented blossoms. And as summer rolls in, the foliage of these shrubs really comes into its own, with lush, textured leaves that provide a beautiful backdrop for the rest of the garden.

Autumn Hues and Winter Interest

But the real magic of viburnums happens in the fall, when their leaves transform into a dazzling array of reds, oranges, and purples. The Seven Son Flower that I mentioned earlier is a particularly stunning example, with its foliage turning a deep, rich burgundy as the temperatures start to drop.

And even when winter rolls around, viburnums still have plenty to offer. Many species produce eye-catching berries that add a pop of color to the bare branches, and their architectural forms can provide lovely winter silhouettes in the garden.

At Today’s Gardens, we love recommending viburnums to our clients because they truly are the gift that keeps on giving. Whether you’re looking for spring blooms, summer foliage, autumn hues, or winter interest, these versatile shrubs have you covered.

Perennial Powerhouses: Dazzling Dahlias and Captivating Cosmos

Of course, when it comes to multi-season beauty, it’s not just about the trees and shrubs – the herbaceous perennials deserve a spotlight, too. And two of my personal favorites are the dazzling dahlias and the captivating cosmos.

The Dahlia Dilemma

Dahlias are a true garden showstopper, with their vibrant, oversized blooms that come in a seemingly endless array of colors and forms. As the folks at Three Acre Farm note, these perennials are absolute rock stars when it comes to cutting gardens, with their long, sturdy stems and eye-catching flowers.

But the thing about dahlias is that they can be a bit of a diva. They require careful planting, staking, and protection from pests and diseases. And then there’s the whole issue of overwintering the tubers – a task that many gardeners find daunting.

The Cosmos Conundrum

Enter the humble cosmos – a plant that delivers just as much multi-season punch as the dahlia, but with a fraction of the fuss. These cheerful annuals, with their delicate, daisy-like blooms, start flowering in the summer and keep going strong well into the fall. And the best part? They self-sow like crazy, so you’ll have a constant supply of new plants popping up year after year.

According to the experts at Three Acre Farm, cosmos are also a fantastic choice for cut flowers, with their long stems and vibrant colors. And because they bloom for so long, you can keep snipping away all season long without depleting your garden display.

So, if you’re looking to add some perennial pizzazz to your landscape, I highly recommend giving both dahlias and cosmos a try. Just be prepared to make a few sacrifices in the name of multi-season beauty – a little extra care and attention, a touch of patience, and a whole lot of love.

Putting it All Together: A Multi-Season Masterpiece

When it comes to creating a truly stunning, multi-season garden, the key is to mix and match a variety of plants – trees, shrubs, and perennials – that each bring their own unique strengths to the table.

Take my garden, for example. I’ve got my trusty Fothergillas, with their spring blooms, summer foliage, and autumn fireworks. Then there are the viburnums, adding their own special brand of seasonal magic, from fragrant spring flowers to winter berry displays. And of course, I can’t forget the dahlias and cosmos, providing a delightful burst of color and texture from summer through fall.

Plant Type Spring Summer Fall Winter
Fothergilla Creamy white flowers Handsome foliage Fiery fall colors Architectural form
Viburnum Fragrant white flowers Lush, textured foliage Brilliant autumn hues Colorful berries
Dahlia Vibrant, oversized blooms Continued flowering
Cosmos Delicate, daisy-like flowers Prolonged flowering Self-sowing for next year

It’s a veritable feast for the senses, with something to delight me in every season. And the best part? I don’t have to worry about my garden looking drab and dreary during those in-between times. There’s always something eye-catching and beautiful to feast my eyes on.

Of course, finding the right mix of plants for your own unique landscape can be a bit of a puzzle. But that’s where the team at Today’s Gardens comes in. We’ll work with you to create a customized planting plan that delivers multi-season beauty tailored to your specific needs and preferences.

So, what are you waiting for? Let’s get started on your very own multi-season masterpiece!

Today’s Garden is Garden and Landscape Company, provides all you need about Garden and Landscape Design to get better garden decorations.

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