Shrubs Large and Small: Natives and Ornamentals for Midwest Gardens [NOOK Book]


This beautifully illustrated book on landscape gardening addresses shrubs and how to determine which you should plant among your perennials and where. Shrubs provide the foundation for a pleasing, yet low-maintenance garden. They are long-lived, have the ornamental appeal of perennials, and provide variety in color, size, shape, and texture, as well as shelter and berries for birds. Shrubs can make attractive arrangements indoors and provide seasonal variation through the entire year. Gillian Harris’s ...

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Shrubs Large and Small: Natives and Ornamentals for Midwest Gardens

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This beautifully illustrated book on landscape gardening addresses shrubs and how to determine which you should plant among your perennials and where. Shrubs provide the foundation for a pleasing, yet low-maintenance garden. They are long-lived, have the ornamental appeal of perennials, and provide variety in color, size, shape, and texture, as well as shelter and berries for birds. Shrubs can make attractive arrangements indoors and provide seasonal variation through the entire year. Gillian Harris’s illustrations are botanically correct works of art that make this book absolutely irresistible.

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Editorial Reviews

Roberta Diehl

"Because shrubs are so trouble free, people tend not to give them the respect they deserve. Andrews's horticultural experience is so vast she can speak to all of us, whether advanced gardeners or beginners. This book is a wonderful companion to Perennials Short and Tall and as always, Harris's charming and accurate paintings will help us to look at their subjects in a new light." —Roberta Diehl, member INPAWS (Indiana Native Plant & Wildflower Society)

Chicago Botanic Garden

"This book is a little gem for any Midwest gardener looking for shrubs to 'become a major part of the fabric not only of our gardens, but of our lives.' Andrews, master gardener, author, and dean of the faculties emerita at Indiana University, will help you achieve this." —Chicago Botanic Garden

From the Publisher
"This book is a little gem for any Midwest gardener looking for shrubs to 'become a major part of the fabric not only of our gardens, but of our lives.' Andrews, master gardener, author, and dean of the faculties emerita at Indiana University, will help you achieve this." —Chicago Botanic Garden
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780253009142
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press
  • Publication date: 3/29/2013
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 168
  • Sales rank: 542,466
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Moya L. Andrews is Dean of the Faculties Emerita at Indiana University. A Master Gardener and author of Perennials Short and Tall (IUP, 2008), Andrews hosts Focus on Flowers, a weekly radio program, and writes gardening articles for Bloom magazine.

Gillian Harris is a natural science illustrator. She is an Indiana Master Naturalist and a past president of the south-central chapter of the Indiana Native Plant and Wildflower Society.

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Read an Excerpt

Shrubs Large and Small

Natives and Ornamentals for Midwest Gardens

By Moya L. Andrews, Gillian Harris

Indiana University Press

Copyright © 2013 Moya L. Andrews and Gillian Harris
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-253-00914-2


Shrubs Are Versatile

* * *

No two gardens are the same. No two days are the same in one garden.

—Hugh Johnson

Shrubs, and for that matter all plants, are characterized by their form, their texture, and their color. Form and color change with time and seasons, and while texture may become more apparent as a plant grows, its defining attributes are usually consistent. The weight or mass of shrubs in a landscape is always greater than that of herbaceous perennials and annuals, but less than that of trees. The outline or silhouette is related to the shrub's form, but it will change with growth and also will be seen differently depending on the perspective from which it is viewed. The light conditions and the amount of obstruction presented by neighboring hardscape and buildings, as well as other plants, will also contribute to the way a shrub's silhouette is perceived by a viewer. At different times of day shadows will also be cast by garden shrubbery, and every shrub will, of course, be seen differently in various seasons. In winter when there is snow cover, the silhouette of a deciduous shrub will be quite different from the one the shrub presents with its summer or fall foliage intact.

Trees and shrubs provide the most solid masses in garden design and are the elements that either frame and enhance the houses in residential gardens, or partially obscure them from view. Shrubs are used to mark boundaries, screen eyesores, and delineate areas within garden spaces. In residential gardens the scale of plantings and the way the woody plants are grouped are crucial to the harmony of the landscape. The woody plants are the elements that provide the architectural structure. In both the creation of vistas and the development of enclosures, woody plants play a starring role.

Selecting and Siting Shrubs

When choosing the correct site, a gardener must think about the size each particular shrub will attain at maturity in order to ensure that the scale of plantings will be right. If adding a new shrub to an existing landscape, a gardener must consider how a new addition will blend in or contrast with existing plantings. If we are selecting a deciduous shrub that loses its leaves in winter, we might consider how the shape and branching will look in relation to existing plantings in the cold months, as well as how the foliage color and texture will look during the growing seasons. If the plant blooms, we need to think about what else will be in bloom at the same time, in order to ensure harmony in terms of color across the landscape. When in doubt about this aspect of the selection process, always choose a shrub with white flowers.

In cold climates, a garden should contain about one-third evergreen and two-thirds deciduous plantings. Evergreens come in a variety of colors, sizes, shapes, and textures. Their foliage can be broad-leaved, as in rhododendrons, small-leaved, as in boxwoods, or needle-shaped, as in spruces and hemlocks. Their shape can be large or small, rounded or cylindrical, upright or spreading. Their textures can be spiky, as in hollies, wispy, as in pines, or dense, as in yews. Their colors can be various shades of green, blue, gray, or yellow.

Evergreens can be lined up like soldiers to form a perimeter planting, or used alone to provide accents. They can be massed together in blocks for convenience—e.g., on a bank or slope that is hard to mow. They can be placed strategically across a large landscape in order to provide repetition. In formal gardens, clipped evergreens provide patterns and organization for spaces. They may be used to line paths, to outline small areas or beds, or to fill urns. They are used to provide the balance and symmetry that are essential characteristics of formal designs. In informal gardens evergreens can also help organize separate areas by providing year-round hedges. Hedges can be high or low, depending on whether they are to be screens, and can be straight, curved, or serpentine in formation.

The size of a garden will determine how much space can be allocated to mass plantings of evergreens, but there should always be some to provide winter interest and shelter for wildlife. If a gardener is also a flower arranger, the winter garden should include some evergreens that yield materials that can be cut for indoor arrangements.

The type of conditions the plant will need to adjust to is an important consideration when a gardener is choosing both evergreen and deciduous shrubs for a landscape. If native plants are sited appropriately, they usually settle in without much pampering, so it is helpful to become familiar with native shrubs and their habitats in the region where we live. Natives are usually more susceptible to our pests and diseases than cultivated imported varieties from other continents that have temperate climates like ours. However, they frequently tolerate local weather conditions better than nonnatives. Additionally, the presence of native plants in our home landscapes helps to alleviate the loss of wild shrubs to development, providing food, shelter, and nesting places for wildlife.


Most gardeners love well-known shrubs such as lilacs and roses, which have been brought here from overseas. Some have been here since colonial times and are much loved. However, we also have lots of unusual native shrubs that we are gradually learning more about and that we could use more than we currently do in our home gardens. Think about the native witch-hazels, for example. Hamamelis virginiana (autumn-blooming witch-hazel) grows the largest, and although it is multi-stemmed like a shrub, if left to its own devices in a woodland setting it can grow to 30 feet. It has a distinctive vase-like shape and is in full bloom in October and November. It is hardy to zone 3. Ozark witch-hazel, Hamamelis vernalis, is hardy to zone 4 and has a late winter/early spring bloom near the vernal equinox. Its flowers are about three-quarters of an inch across and are yellowish to orange-red. Autumn foliage is yellow and provides a special bonus.

Japanese plum yew (Cephalotaxus harringtonia) is hardy to zone 5 and grows tall in sun or shade in well-drained soil. It makes a valuable hedge or can be used as an accent. Since deer savor yew foliage, gardeners in deer-populated areas may like to layer more deer-resistant plants in front of yews. For example, in a shrub border, place the yews against a wall or garage to form a hedge. Then, in front, place a line of the deer-resistant Abelia mosanensis, which has fragrant pink flowers May/June and good fall color. Another deer-resistant shrub such as fiveleaf aralia (Eleutherococcus sieboldiamus 'Variegatus'), hardy to zone 5, and with yellow May/June flowers and handsome variegated foliage, could be selected for this layer. The native buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis, see appendix G), hardy to zone 4 with globe-shaped white flowers in July, followed by reddish balls of seeds, grows in sun or part shade and is also an underused native shrub that is deer-resistant.

Gardeners who are looking for plants for heavy shade might like to try the Japanese aucuba, which is hardy to zone 6 with protection. It is an evergreen and produces red fruit. The oakleaf hydrangea (H. quercifolia) and native wild hydrangea (H. arborescens) will also bloom in shade, as will the native spicebush (L. benzoin), which as a bonus is deer-resistant. Kerria japonica will bear yellow blooms from June to September in sun or shade if the soil is moisture retentive. Variegated kerrias are available, and they provide foliage interest in woodland settings. An interesting evergreen that grows in shade is a dwarf Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria japonica 'Knaptonensis'). White new growth changes to lime green in zones 6–9 and it grows only 2 feet tall with an 18-inch spread, so it is a good edging plant.

Forsythia is a nuisance shrub after its spring display, as it spreads and needs a lot of pruning in return for only one season of pleasure for its gardener. If you want to grow it plant a dwarf such as F. × intermedia, which grows only 18 inches tall and 30 inches wide.

Deutzia scabra 'Codsall Pink' is a good accent plant with double pink blooms in May, reaching a height of 6–10 feet in zones 5–8 in a sunny, well-drained spot. An added attraction is the exfoliating bark and bare branches that arch gracefully and are useful in winter flower arrangements. Another sometimes underused shrub for accents is the smoke bush (Cotinus), which now comes in a variety that has golden foliage all season in zones 5–8 and attains a height of 10–15 feet. It can be cut back to make it a smaller bush and can be combined with the traditional smoke bush with purple foliage in sun or part sun, in berms, borders, and avenues. Don't overlook our native Viburnum acerifolium, which has purple foliage in the fall and black fruit, making it a good accent plant, too. It grows in dappled shade and can be combined in a large grouping—at the edge of a wooded area, for example, with cutleaf maple (Acer japonicum 'Dissectum'), star magnolia (Magnolia stellata), and Hydrangea paniculata 'Grandiflora' or other hydrangeas. However, if you have deer problems, substitute Viburnum nudum 'Winterthur', a native cultivar that has white flowers June/July, wonderful fall color, red berries, and most importantly, deer resistance. It grows 5 feet by 6 feet in zones 5–8.

Now that the USDA has updated the Plant Hardiness Zone Map due to the warming trend of the past few decades, most of us experiment with some shrubs that used not to be recommended for our area (visit for an animated map showing the changing zones). Our options with respect to shrubs we can consider planting are greater now than they were previously. Also there are many underutilized natives, as we will be discussing in subsequent sections of this book, that can enrich the diversity of our home garden shrubbery.


Whether the property where we garden is new to us or we have gardened on it for years, we generally can benefit from carefully evaluating its assets and liabilities. Is it currently a densely populated space or is it a blank slate? How many trees are there? How many shrubs? Are there existing beds, and if so are they in appropriate locations? Are there any valuable or favorite plantings we wish to retain or move? What are the sunny and shady sides of the house? Where does the sun rise and set and what shadows are cast at noontime? What is the ratio of wooded areas to open areas? What kind of soil is there? What plantings adjoin the garden perimeters and what does the region contribute in terms of wildlife to attract? Is there a deer problem?

Shrubs that like good drainage and dislike wet feet will enjoy a sloping site more than shrubs that require even moisture. An example of a subshrub that thrives on slopes and in raised beds is lavender, which originated in the Mediterranean region. Remember that subshrubs have a woody base like shrubs, but soft top growth like perennials. Never cut into the base of a subshrub when pruning. Another excellent choice for a dry (and even rocky) slope is the low-growing native shrub New Jersey tea (Ceanothus americanus). Shrubs such as hydrangeas that do not tolerate drought well should not be planted on slopes or in raised beds. Site them in low spots or near drainage ditches or downspouts.

The exposure of the site is also a key factor in the placement of new shrubs in a garden. Generally speaking, azaleas and rhododendrons, which do not grow exuberantly in the Midwest, prefer the north side of a house or other structure. Since the north gets less winter sun than other exposures, these shrubs will not break their dormancy as early on the north side as they would, for example, on the south side, and are therefore less vulnerable to freezing and thawing as well as to the cold winds that dry out their foliage.

Set Some Goals

Once we have taken stock of our existing property and/or plantings, we are in a better position to decide on both long-term and short-term goals. When you embark on a rejuvenation of an existing garden, consult with experts to learn the names of your existing plants, trees, and shrubs and discover which shrubs are exotic (and perhaps undesirable invasives) and which are natives. Waiting and observing a newly purchased garden for a year, before ripping any plants out, is usually judicious too, as a new owner then sees what the landscape looks like in all seasons.

Most of us tend to concentrate on spring and summer plantings, but a garden should be attractive in fall and winter as well. The birds also appreciate both food and shelter in those seasons of the year. Think about shrubs with interesting bark and branching structure that will be good for you to look at and for the birds to find shelter in during the coldest months. Remember, too, that we always need both vistas and enclosures in our gardens and try to maximize opportunities to capitalize on both of these by using shrubs that are attractive across the entire year.


Hedges, made up of similar individual shrubs, have been important features of European gardens since records have been kept. A low hedge was a popular way to enclose medieval herb gardens, when herbs were grown for medicinal purposes. Parterres are ornamental gardens where flowers and foliage are grown to form patterns, and they were often viewed from high windows overlooking courtyards of stately homes in Britain and France in centuries past. Knot gardens and parterres, as well as cloister gardens, usually had small edging plants that were trimmed to maintain specific heights and widths, and so were extremely high-maintenance. Since World War I, however, when maintaining labor-intensive gardens on large European estates became impossible for most families, we have seen fewer examples of trimmed hedges, except in public gardens. Low boxwood hedges are seen sometimes edging beds of herbs and roses and along paths in formal gardens. Higher clipped evergreen hedges are also still used in some modern formal gardens where spaces are enclosed to form garden "rooms," or where paths lined with evergreens lead the eye toward a focal point, or distant vista.

Not all hedges are alike, however. The Romans used box, laurel, and myrtle in hedges in the gardens of their villas, and tall holly and cypress hedges are still seen in some Italian villa gardens that are open to the public in our century. In some English country gardens today we can still see gardens with trimmed yew hedges forming a lush background for flowerbeds. Sometimes hedges are trimmed so that they frame statues, entrances, and benches within enclosed garden spaces. Hedges like these evoke a sense of permanence and anchor plantings within the enclosure they provide. Of course hedges of similar evergreens, carefully maintained, are the essential ingredient in mazes, which provide some of the most challenging and most unusual arrangements of evergreen plantings and involve structure, order, and repetition as well as ingenuity in their design.

Shrubs for hedges as well as other types of plantings are available in many sizes and can be evergreen or deciduous. They contribute height and mass to a garden, and if they are chosen and placed carefully, they can provide not only a feeling of permanence but also a succession of interest across all four seasons. While shrubs are not as high-maintenance as annuals or perennials, they do require some attention in order to remain attractive year-round. Since shrubs are long-term residents of a garden, it is best to spend some time on the selection process and on decisions regarding their location. If one is starting a new garden from scratch it is wise to develop a landscape plan, with careful personal research, or in collaboration with a professional designer.

We now know that privet is an invasive species and so do not advise using it for hedges. Boxwood is a better choice. However, privet hedges are sometimes seen in older gardens and many appear overgrown, with all of the foliage on top and lanky leafless legs beneath. This is because the top portion of the hedge has become so wide that the lower limbs do not get much sun. Hedges like this can be renewed if they are cut back and then gradually shaped so that the top portion is narrow enough that sunlight can penetrate and leaves can grow on the lower limbs. The ideal shape for a mature hedge is to have the base several inches wider than the top, and sides that slope gradually inwards from bottom to top. Always allow plenty of space on either side when you plant a line of shrubs to form a hedge lining a path. The plants must be permitted to grow a little each year to remain vigorous over time, so although trimming will be done, all hedges have a tendency to end up taking up more space than the gardener imagines they will at first. Evergreen hedges are ideal for enclosures for secret gardens and private tranquil spaces. Their advantage is that their impact remains across four seasons.


Excerpted from Shrubs Large and Small by Moya L. Andrews, Gillian Harris. Copyright © 2013 Moya L. Andrews and Gillian Harris. Excerpted by permission of Indiana University Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

1. Shrubs Are Versatile
2. Shrubs Attract Wildlife
3. Bringing Flowers Indoors

Zone Map

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