New Easy Care Shrubs for 2015

Gardening in deer-prone country is so frustrating. As a designer I envision grand plant and color combinations in my mind – only to struggle to then find deer resistant plants that fulfill those criteria of shape, color and form. As a result I feel as though I'm working with a very limited plant palette at times, especially as I also need plants that are drought tolerant. Add to my list of 'must have's'  low maintenance and great foliage and you'll see why I'm a tough customer.

So you can imagine how excited I get about new plant introductions and  even if you don't have these restrictions you'll be impressed by the shrubs here. Get your notepads out and start your shopping list!

First Editions Limoncello barberry (Berberis thunbergii 'BailErin')

Photo courtesy Bailey's

Photo courtesy Bailey's

If barberries are invasive in your area skip ahead. For the rest of us – WOW!

When doing a live radio broadcast not too long ago I was asked what my favorite plant was. When I said barberries the radio host (Ciscoe Morris) was clearly surprised and expected me to suggest something much more exotic. However I really do get excited about these shrubs because they have been reliably deer resistant in my garden, are super drought tolerant,  available in many colors including variegated forms and there are tall ones, prostrate forms and short mounding varieties. On top of that there are evergreen varieties as well as deciduous ones, the latter having great fall color and red berries.

All of which explains why I'm excited to try Limoncello. The growers claim this to have chartreuse foliage with an unusual red edge. It is recommended that this is grown in full sun for best color so I'll be curious to see if it shows signs of scorching as some of the paler barberries can do. Grows 3-4' tall and wide in zones 4-7. Introduced by Bailey's

Lo' and Behold Blue Chip Junior butterfly bush (Buddleia x)

IMG_3994I grew this beauty last summer and was really impressed. It has all the best attributes of larger butterfly bushes without the bad habits. Highly fragrant, attracts bees, butterflies and hummingbirds, has a very long bloom time and attractive felted foliage in a silvery blue-green. The really good news is that it is sterile so no need to worry about seedlings.

Its compact habit at roughly 2' tall and wide makes it a great container option or it would be lovely as a low hedge or at the front of the border. Hardy in zones 5-9 and available this year from Proven Winners.

You can see additional photographs and read more  in my article Contain Your Excitement in the March edition of Country Gardens magazine – out soon!

Double Play Blue Kazoo spirea (Spiraea)


Now I have to admit I'm pushing the boundaries a little on this one. It is drought resistant after about two years in good moisture retentive soil and as far as deer resistance; they may nibble some of the flowering shoots but don't seem to eat the main foliage. However I love the smoky blue leaves and soft rose new growth plus it performed so well for me in a container last summer that I have transplanted it into the garden where I have high hopes for it! Probably my favorite spirea to date, this grows 3' tall and wide (possibly larger) and is hardy in zones 3-8. Available from Proven Winners.

You can read more – and see gorgeous photos of this spirea in my article Contain Your Excitement in the March 2015 edition of Country Gardens magazine – out soon!

Tuxedo weigela (Weigela x 'Velda')


Here's a new weigela to blow your socks off! I visited the breeders Van Belle  in British Columbia last summer where I got a teasing glimpse of this outstanding new introduction. If I could have smuggled one back across the border I would have but sadly I have had to wait like you to be able to get my hands on one of these.

weigela-tuxedo-0005 (Large)

Pristine white tubular flowers on black foliage – this makes quite the statement. Imagine it in a sleek silver container all on its own or next to a feathery yellow Ogon spirea. Or what about planting it next to a cushion of Silver Mound wormwood (Artemisia schmidtiana 'Silver Mound')? Now while Van Belle do not claim it to be either deer resistant or drought tolerant my own experience with weigela (I have four different varieties currently) is that in good moisture retentive soil they do not need additional water after the first year or two and the deer either leave them alone completely or may nibble a few new shoots depending on the year.

This unique variety grows 2-3' high x 3-4' wide and is hardy to zone 4. Hurry, hurry – these will sell out FAST!

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  1. Diane on January 13, 2015 at 1:18 pm

    Thank you, thank you for featuring deer resistant shrubs! After years of gardening on a small city lot with no threat of large munching animals, we now have the joy of rural acres to cultivate…and the challenge of deer.

  2. debsgarden on January 21, 2015 at 3:58 pm

    Hi Karen, first a belated Happy New Year to you! I wish you happy gardening and the best in all your endeavors in 2015!

    Like you, I grew the 'Lo and Behold' buddleia last summer, and I was impressed with it. It bloomed its socks off through summer, all the way till frost put it to sleep. I want to find more places for it in my garden this year.