Connecticut Garden Journal: Midsummer Color Burst

Jul 13, 2017

We often get wowed in late spring and early summer with all the colorful flowering shrubs. Lilacs, spirea, rhododendron, mountain laurel, and weigela are just some of the beautiful shrubs that burst into color in May and June. But come July and August, our shrub borders often just look green.

Luckily, it doesn't have to be that way. There are other shrubs that bloom in midsummer and some have yellow or purple colored foliage, too. They can give your yard color a boost. Here's some of my favorites.

Ninebark is a six-foot-tall deciduous shrub that has a cascading growth pattern like a spirea. It produces pink flower buds that open to white flowers. By midsummer, the flowers produce drooping clusters of attractive reddish fruit. Diablo is a selection with purple colored foliage.

Smokebush is aptly named. It can grow up to 10 feet tall with oval purple, green, or even yellow colored leaves. By midsummer, the flower clusters open into a smoke-like white or purple haze.

Clethra or summersweet is a part shade loving three to five foot tall shrub that produces sweet smelling white or pink colored flower in summer. It's a favorite of butterflies.

Although not known for its summer flowers, Callicarpa -- or beautyberry -- features bright purple colored berries in August on three to six foot tall cascading shrubs.

Finally, lespedeza -- or bush clover -- is actually an herbaceous perennial that dies back to the grow in our climate each winter. But it grows so fast that by late summer it's a four to six foot tall and wide shrub. It features cascading branches covered with purple, pea-like flowers.

Next week on the Connecticut Garden Journal, I'll be talking about tomato diseases. Until then, I'll be seeing you in the garden.