Shrubs for spring

Shrubs for spring

Spring is here again, although it doesn’t look like it still, what with a wintry spell still lingering in some parts of the Northern Hemisphere. Nonetheless, for gardeners, this is the time to start getting their hands dirty again in the garden, and for aficionados, what better way to kick off a new spring than with shrubs?

One of the first shrubs to awaken in spring is the pussy willow (Salix discolour) which when their furry grey catkins appear, is taken as the first sign of spring. The moment the first warm spring spell arrives, prune a few of its branches and take them indoors into your living room. You can then observe the silvery catkins sprout from their brown husks close hand. After a while as it gets warmer, yellow pollen appears, giving the catkins a golden hue.

pussy willow
Pussy Willow

If you keep the stems in water, they will soon sprout leaves and roots. These you can plant outside in your garden, and it helps that the pussy willow is able to thrive in dry soils, contrary to most other willows, which prefer wet soil near riverbanks.

Viburnums are small shrubs belonging to the honeysuckle family with pretty flowers that are popular with some gardens. Korean spice viburnum (Viburnum carlesii) has tiny florets which are pink while in bud and unfold to white, which are highly fragrant. Place a few blossoms on a window sill to dry them out, shred them up, place them in a pouch or handkerchief, and then slip it into a drawer. The fragrance given out is what gives Korean spice viburnum its “spice” name, and not anything culinary related. Sucker growth should be pruned after the flowering cycle.

viburnum blooms
Korean Spice Viburnum

Japanese quince (Chaenomeles japonica) is spring shrub that blooms with clusters of flame orange/red flowers all along its spiny branches. It’s a favourite among bonsai lovers and also makes a great spring addition to the garden. Japanese quince bushes set a foot apart in a row grow into a nice flowering hedge. Also worth growing are the hybrid quinces, sometimes referred to as cydonias, which are beautiful and hardy.

japanese quince
Japanese Quince

In general, flowering shrubs are for those who want masses of flowers without having to do too much work. These shrubs should not require much pruning at all; the only times you “prune” them would be when you gather their blossom heavy branches. Some flowering shrubs make good hedges and others as screens. If your place is really small, grow a single shrub specimen for a more dramatic accent, but make your choice wisely.

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