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Birds & Blooms|August/September 2021
THE SHRUBS IN GRANDMA’S BACKYARD MAY BE HUGE, BUT THEY’RE CLASSICS FOR A REASON. CHECK OUT WHAT THE NEXT GENERATION OF TRADITIONAL SHRUBS HAS TO OFFER.
SALLY ROTH

Fairytrail Bride Cascade hydrangea

Maxing out at only 4 feet tall and wide, this shrub can be used in nearly any size space —even in a pot.

IT’S HARD TO BEAT THE SPECTACULAR FLOWER SHOWS OF GRANDMA’S FORSYTHIA, WEIGELA AND OTHER OLD-FASHIONED SHRUBS.

Fast-growing, long-living and tough as nails, they’re generally untroubled by insects, disease or even deer. There’s just one problem: They’re too big for today’s gardens! Most reach 8 to 10 feet tall and wide, making them fantastic solo specimens in a landscape or as a hedge but oversized for most beds or pots.

This is where plant breeders come to the rescue. Thanks to their work, you can enjoy downsized versions—half-size or even smaller. New varieties also offer longer bloom periods, reblooming or colored foliage that appeals from spring to fall. “A big part of my job is just keeping up on what those plant breeders are up to!” says Georgia Clay, a new plants manager for Monrovia. “We trial and evaluate thousands of varieties from all over the world and bring to market only the very best performers.”

“We want to introduce plants that growers and gardeners ask for,” adds Natalie Carmolli, an advertising and public relations specialist for Proven Winners. “We work with independent breeders across the country and abroad, and with our inhouse breeders to create plants. From breeding to introduction, the entire process can take up to 10 years.”

So give a nod to Grandma, thank the behind-the-scenes breeders and try a few new varieties in your own garden. All of these options thrive in Zones 5 to 8 or 9.

FORSYTHIA

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