Gardening With What You Have

These Love It Dry: 3 Hardy Shrubs That Never Get Thirsty

Christine Froehlich 10/22/2020 Comments

I'm not complaining about the hot, dry sunny days we had this summer, but dragging hoses around to wilting plants is not my idea of a good time. On the other hand, I gained a new appreciation for several shrubs that remained unfazed by drought. 


Let me introduce you to three stalwart little beauties that have it all going on.


Hypericum androsaemum 'Albury Purple' (aka St. Johns Wort) is my new best friend. Hypericums may not be glamorous, but they get the job done. This one is planted in a tough spot - hardpan, clay-like soil. Even after hours of painful digging and adding compost, everything else I planted here died. This hardy little shrub thrived, and by the way - browsing deer didn't munch it.


hypericum albury purple
Hypericum androsaemum 'Albury Purple'


It produces sulphurous yellow flowers in June, but I'd plant it for the foliage alone. The purplish leaves are interesting, durable and attractive from summer into late fall. It's an excellent shrub (about 2'x2') for mass plantings.


hypericum 'albury purple


I think it gets even better in the fall when it produces these shiny red berries. 


hypericum berries


Spirea 'Snowstorm,' (photo below) is another shrub with many virtues. This tidy roundy moundy (about 3'x3') soldiers on no matter what you throw at it. Mine is in a spot that ranges from mildly damp to bone dry, depending on how much rain there is. It never skipped a beat this summer.  You can count on masses of white flowers in early June and the sturdy gray foliage is a distinctive addition to any border. 


spirea snowstorm
Spirea 'Snowstorm'

It's no slouch in the fall either. In October, those gray leaves turn deep red and orange - an outstanding shrub for late color. 


spirea 'snowstorm'


Physocarpus opulifolius 'Tiny Wine,' (aka Ninebark) (below) is one of my new favorites. I'm fond of all the Ninebarks - they're tough as nails, sail through hot dry summers and deer don't eat them. Most of them get too big for my small garden, but this little guy is just right. It's compact size and shape (about 3'x3') are perfect for this border where the dark magenta foliage adds a little pop.


Physocarpus opulifolius 'Tiny Wine'


Small pinkish white flowers adorn it in June and July, but I think it's main virtue is dramatic foliage that you can count on through summer and late fall.



nine bark


 As they say, when the going gets tough, the tough get going. These three shrubs are worth trying. Durabilty, attractive flowers and foliage that adds color to a fall garden, what more could you ask for? 

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