I am always amazed at how resilient plants are. Despite the wind and rain, the summer shrubs in our garden are all doing well – almost too well in fact! After the copious amounts of rain, they will need to be pruned soon to remove some of the vigorous long growths, that haven’t been broken by the pesky damaging wind!
For now though I am really enjoying the Mock Orange Blossom (Philadelphus) with its clusters of pure white flowers that smell so heavenly. Bubble gum comes to mind! We have two and they are both full of flower and looking the best they ever have after almost six years since planting. I pruned them to shape in the spring whilst they were still bare wood, removing some of the upright shoots back by two thirds to make more of the twiggy growth that will bear flowers in subsequent years.
Our Spiraea ‘Gold Flame’ has almost finished flowering now, so I have been removing the flat pink flower heads as they fade, to reveal the bright gold leaves underneath. I love this plant for the autumn colours of red and purple later on which increases its value in a small garden even more!
The Cistus (Sun Rose) that we planted in the usually dry front garden has grown into a huge, evergreen mound of crinkly green leaves, spurred on by the rain and the fact that the roots are now free from the confines of a pot! It has produced a few pink, tissue paper flowers, but next year should be smothered through May and June, for our enjoyment and the bees who love this plant!
Another plant much loved by bees is Weigela. The tunnel like flowers that are produced in May and June are ideal for foraging insects and the variegated plant that we have in the garden is covered in sugar pink flowers each early summer without fail. The branches are literally weighed down with the flowers and the plant has the added bonus of plumy purple autumn colours before the leaves drop for the winter.
Smoke Bushes (Cotinus) are amongst my favourite shrubs. Although late to leaf up in the spring, they make up for lost time with their bold, rounded leaves and dreamy haze of flowers that drift over the plant in summer. The old variety Cotinus ‘Royal Purple’ has deep purple leaves that become almost red before they fall in the autumn. Cotinus coggygria - the original Smoke Bush - has bronze green leaves that colour to fiery orange before dropping.
A new shrub that has caught my eye at our local garden centre is Physocarpus. The deep purple leaves are a feature in their own right, borne neatly on stiff, upright growth. The picture is completed in summer, when the clusters of white or pale pink flowers appear up the stems. A useful plant for a part shaded border and most soil types. I think we may have just the spot for one!