by Connie Oswald Stofko
When you’re shopping for plants for your garden, don’t overlook shrubs. Many shrubs will give you lovely flowers, and there are smaller, more compact varieties of shrubs available that won’t overpower your yard, said Ray Crawley, store manager at Goodman’s Farm Market, 2227 Cayuga Drive Extension, Niagara Falls.
First, let me assure you that there’s still plenty of time to plant things in your garden. There’s no rule that says you have to get all of your plants in the ground by the end of May. Remember that Memorial Day weekend isn’t a deadline for planting; it’s just a starting point. That’s when the danger of frost has usually passed for Western New York, so that’s when it’s generally safe to plant pretty much anything. So keep planting!
The shrubs that we’re talking about today can be planted through autumn. You might be able to plant into October, but getting them in the ground by early September is best so the shrub can establish a good root system before winter, Crawley said.
While you do have time to plant, Crawley noted that getting to Goodman’s early will give you the best selection of these shrubs. Keep shopping throughout the summer; the selection of plants changes throughout the season.
Goodman’s carries a variety of shrubs from Proven Winners that flower, and most have a fairly long bloom time, Crawley said. In addition, many have foliage that adds interest to your landscape.
Elderberry ‘Black Lace’ and ‘Lemony Lace’
“People come in and mistake this for a Japanese maple,” Crawley said.
The sambucus ‘Black Lace’ and ‘Lemony Lace’ are elderberry bushes that have very fine cut leaves, similar to a Japanese maple, he explained.
Native to North America, they are tough, low-maintenance and deer resistant.
‘Black Lace’ grows 6 to 8 feet tall, but you can trim it back and use it in a pot on your patio.
As its name implies, it has dark purple-black leaves. The pink flowers in early summer are followed by blackish red fall berries that can be harvested for making elderberry wine and jam or left on the plant to attract birds and other wildlife.
One note: According to information on Proven Winners, parts of the ‘Black Lace’ plant may be toxic to pets.
‘Lemony Lace’ is smaller, getting only 3 to 5 feet tall and can be pruned to stay smaller. It produces big clusters of white flowers in early spring before the foliage emerges. When the leaves appear, they’re bright yellow, edged in red. As the foliage ages, it turns an attractive chartreuse.
‘Summer Wine’ ninebark
The foliage of this ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius) ‘Summer Wine‘ is a dark purple color, Crawley said. The soft pink flowers that it gets in spring contrasts nicely with the foliage.
This is another native plant. While using native plants in your landscape is good for the environment in many ways, such as helping pollinators, I like using native plants because they’re easy to care for. They’re adapted to our environment and you don’t have to spend a lot of time watering or fussing with them. Proven Winners notes that this variety has superior resistance to powdery mildew, a common problem with ninebark.
In addition to ‘Summer Wine’, Goodman’s also carries ‘Tiny Wine’, which is smaller and grows 3-4 feet tall.
‘Cityline’ hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla) will get only 1-3 feet tall.
These hydrangeas are selected to be lower maintenance, Crawley noted. It’s a dwarf plant and doesn’t need pruning, but you can prune it immediately after it flowers if you want. It blooms on old wood, so don’t prune it before it flowers or you’ll be cutting off all the potential flowers.