Hartley Magazine

All the latest news, hints, tips and advice from our experts

The Latest Greatest Shrubs – Get a Jump-start on Next Year’s Garden

Cherry-Go-Round Hydrangea brings eye-catching bright red coloring to containers.

Shrubs are the easy-care backbone of any garden, whether you have sun or shade. And the National Garden Bureau (NGB) knows how to pick the most outstanding. Recently, I attended a virtual Garden Communicators International conference, where we were given a presentation of the NGB’s 2023 choices, from ornamentals to edibles. The official rollout for these plants comes in December. But here’s your exclusive preview of five new shrubs that are on my wish-list for next year.

Now? Yes, now is the best time to start planning. I suggest you order as soon as you can. Many of the newest offerings sell out fast. This strategy allows you to get a head-start. And with a greenhouse, you can bring along your purchases, letting them grow bigger, long before the conditions are ideal for planting out in your garden.

Hydrangea macrophylla Cherry-Go-Round™—So many new hydrangeas are coming to market this year. A lot are bred for more cold-hardiness and smaller size. At 2 to 3 feet tall and wide, this reblooming hydrangea would be happy in a large container, as well as showing off in the front of the border. I fell in love with the bright red flowers, so sumptuous and cheerful in Zones 4-8.

Physocarpus Lucky Devil lends a golden glow to the border.

Physocarpus Lucky Devil®—Ninebark is a North American native, and many cultivars have been developed. This one is tough, hardy—to Zone 4—and tolerant of various soil types. But it’s the shining golden foliage on Lucky Devil® that makes it a winner for my garden in sun or partial shade. And unlike the species, this one is compact at 3 to 4 feet high and wide.

Rosa Rise Up Lilac Days—A scented rose with a dusky lilac coloring completely intrigues me. Better yet, this one is considered a mini-climber at 5-8 feet tall and 3-4 feet wide. That means I can secure the branches sideways on a relatively small trellis and get masses of blooms along each horizontal stem. Grows in Zones 4-8.

RISE UP Lilac Days rose is considered a mini-climber.

Syringa meyeri Pearl Potion™—Here is a compact lilac that won’t outgrow its space or throw its fragrant white blossoms up out of my reach, the way the huge lilacs do. This small size (3 feet tall and 7 wide) will make a soothing green space in the border, its foliage nestling among more dramatic show-off flowers later in the season in Zones 3-7.

Syringa Pearl Potion scents the garden with fragrant flowers.

Weigela VINHO VERDE™—Weigelas are work-horses in my garden. They come in so many sizes, from massive (10 feet) down to tiny (2 feet). They’re trouble-free and reliable bloomers in sun to part shade. But it’s the foliage—lime-green leaves with black edging—that draws me to this one, as well as the size, at 3-5 feet tall and wide. Hardy to Zone 5, I’ve already marked a space for it in my garden.

With Weigela VINHO VERDE, the pink-red early summer flowers are a bonus.