A Flowering Shrub Garden

seven-son-up-close-jpg.jpgThe Flowering Shrub Garden
is one of the most striking collections to grace the Springfield Botanical Gardens in Springfield, Missouri.
     This extraordinary garden, first planted in 2008, displays 167 flowering shrub varieties. These include 20 species of hydrangea, 18 Butterfly Bush, 10 Flowering Quince, 8 Elderberry, and many less common species.
     Designed by Dr. Bill Roston and installed and maintained by the volunteer organization Friends of the Garden, the Flowering Shrub Garden is laid out in 50-foot-wide circles with related shrubs grouped for easy viewing and easy reference.
     The Garden reaches its peak bloom in mid-spring to late summer but provides visual interest all year long, including the winter season.
     One primary purpose of the Garden is to provide visitors a quick and easy source of ideas and examples from which homeowners and gardeners can choose the best shrubs for their own foundation, landscape, or garden plantings.
     The Springfield Botanical Gardens are located in Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park at 2400 South Scenic Ave. in Springfield.

Seven Son Flower

A rather fast-growing shrub with beautiful foliage and large, lovely clusters of pink or white flowers, Seven Son Flower (Heptacodium miconioides) is a powerfully impressive presence in any garden or landscape. In sun or partial shade it tolerates drought and can grow to 15 feet tall with a similar spread.

Seven Son Flower Up Close

A closer look at the remarkable Seven Sun Flower. Multi-stemmed, it can be left to grow naturally or can be pruned into an elegant vase shape. Bonus: Removing the lower branches reveals very attractive pale, peeling bark.

'Annabelle' Hydrangea

Many gardeners consider the 'Annabelle' Hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle') the most beautiful hydrangea for its huge white flower clusters, which can reach 12 inches across. This low-maintenance deciduous shrub can grow as tall as 5 feet with a 6-foot spread. It loves part shade and blooms from June into September. Its common name is Smooth Hydrangea.

'Limelight' Hydrangea

The 'Limelight' Hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata 'Limelight') is a genuine marvel. Developed in Holland, this absolutely unique shrub produces an abundance of gorgeous white flowerheads that in fall change to chartreuse and deep pink. The flowerheads are huge, 8-12 inches tall, and can be used as cut flowers. The plant can grow as tall as 10 feet with a 6-foot spread.

Variegated Hydrangea

Variegated Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla 'Variegata') is an unusually beautiful shrub that features bright green foliage with vivid white margins. In spring and summer it adds clusters of very attractive pink-lavendar flowers. Grown in partial shade in well-drained soil, the plant grows quickly to 6 feet tall and as wide. This one is a superb addition to the garden or landscape and is especially effective in bringing color to shady areas.

Shrubby St. Johnswort

Shrubby St. John's Wort (Hypericum prolificum) is a native shrub, a deciduous perennial that features very attractive foliage and a great abundance of gorgeous bright yellow flowers from June into August. In full sun to part shade this shrub can grow as tall as 5 feet tall and 4 feet wide. In sum, it's an excellent low-maintenance plant for the garden or landscape.

Shrubby St. John's Wort Up Close

A closer look at Shrubby St. John's Wort reveals
the multiple stamens of the flowers, which gives them a uniquely airy, delicate appeal in addition to their very bright color.

'Candida' Weigela

'Candida' Weigela (Weigela florida 'Candida') is a spreading, dense, rounded shrub with arching branches, light green leaves, and pure white buds and flowers. It grows in sun to light shade and tolerates a wide range of soil types but prefers well-drained soils. A moderate to rapid growers, it can reach 6-10 feet tall with a similar spread.

'Rumba' Weigela

'Rumba' Weigela (Weigela florida 'Rumba') is an unusually showy shrub that features reddish-purple leaves and a profusion of gorgeous dark-red flowers from June through September. It blooms best in full sun but will also do well in light shade. The plant prefers moist soil and can grow to 6 feet tall and as wide. Rate it outstanding in the garden or landscape.

'White Knight' Weigela
This bizarre floweroid being is the ''White Knight' Weigela (Weigela florida 'White Knight'), an eye-grabbing presence in any garden or landscape. This marvelous plant grows 5-6 feet tall with a 5 foot spread. Blooming all summer long, it bears light pink buds in spring that yield flowers of pure white. It likes sun full to mostly sunny and normal soil. If pruning is necessary, wait till after blossoms have faded.

Yellow-Leafed Weigela
'Rubidor' Weigela (Weigela florida 'Rubidor'), also known as Yellow-Leafed Weigela, is a marvel of a deciduous shrub that mixes bright yellow foliage with a profusion of vivid rosy-red flowers. It grows to 6 feet tall with a similar spread and has an attractive arching habit. the flowers appear in May. The leaves gradually turn chartreuse by fall. 

Red Cardinal Weigela

Red Cardinal Weigela (Weigela florida 'Vanicekii') is a striking winner in any garden or landscape. Starting in late spring it bears an enormous number of clustered rosy-red, funnel-shaped flowers that provide beautiful color all summer long and sometimes even into fall. It likes full sun to partial shade and in time can reach 8 feet tall and 10 feet wide.

'Gold Rush' Weigela

'Gold Rush' Weigela (Weigela x 'Gold Rush') is a uniquely beautiful Weigela with variegated foliage and lovely, fragrant, soft-pink flowers in May and June. It likes full sun and can reach 5 feet tall and as wide. The foliage keeps its variegation through the season. 

'Diane' Hibiscus

For the life of us, we can't find any cultural information on the 'Diane' Hibiscus (Hibiscus moscheutos 'Diane'), so we'll just have to wait to see how it does in this beautiful garden. (Clearly it's off to a good start.) Note: This is definitely NOT the much-loved variety 'Diana', which is all white without an eye. 

'Lavendar Chiffon' Hibiscus

This isn't the best specimen to be found, but remember, this was its first year in the garden. The pale lavender flowers of the 'Lavender Chiffon' Hibiscus (Hibiscus syriacus 'Lavender Chiffon') are unique for their curious lacy, frilly centers. The plant prefers full sun and can grow to 12 feet tall and 7 feet wide. It blooms in late summer. Bonus: It can be pruned as desired and even trained and trimmed into an attractive standard tree form.

'Old Yella' Hibiscus

Although this is a perfectly awful picture and we hope to take a better one soon, it should at least give some sense of the character of 'Old Yella' Hibiscus (Hibiscus x moscheutos 'Old Yella'). The flower is actually more creamy white than yellow and very large--up to 12 inches wide. The plant is a hardy perennial, grows to 4 feet tall and 2 feet wide, and blooms in July-September. 

'Kopper King' Hibiscus

'Kopper King' Hibiscus (Hibiscus x 'Kopper King') strikes a subtly dramatic note in any garden or landscape with its maple-like, coppery red-purple leaves and 10-12-inch-wide pink "dinner plate" flowers. The blossoms are pale pink with red veining and deep-red centers. 'Kopper King' likes average garden soils but soil must not dry out. It will also do well in light shade but blooms most spectacularly in full sun. The plant can reach 3-4 feet tall with a similar spread. It's also one of the Hibiscus commonly called Rose Mallow.

Golden Cutleaf Sumac
golden-cutleaf-sumac-jpg.jpgGolden Cut-Leaf Sumac (Rhus typhina 'Bailtiger') is often sold as Tiger Eyes Sumac. Its new growth foliage is fern-like and chartreuse changing quickly to brilliant yellow. The rose-pink stems and the leaves drape for a most appealing look. The flowers are showy, greenish-yellow plumes and the leaves in autumn turn a spectacular orange-scarlet. With good drainage and full sun or partial shade it can reach 6 feet tall and as wide. A sport of Cutleaf Staghorn Sumac, it is sometimes referred to by that name or as Staghorn Sumac.

Blue Butterfly Bush
blue-butterfly-bush-jpg.jpgWe're not sure which "Blue Butterfly Bush" this is, but there are at least three blue varieties on the market--'Adonis Blue', 'Empire Blue', and 'Nanho Blue'. Whatever the correct varietal name, the plant is a winner with its blue-violet flower clusters, which are 6-8 inches long, sweetly and richly fragrant, and make excellent cut flowers. It grows to 6 feet tall and 5 feet wide and like all butterfly bushes loves the sun and is terrifically attractive to butterflies and hummingbirds.

'Potters Purple' Butterfly Bush

'Potters Purple' Butterfly Bush (Buddleia davidii 'Potters Purple) features 6-8 inch flowerheads (panicles) that are fragrant and purple in color. The plant may grow as tall as 8 feet and, as with all butterfly bushes, are a great source of nectar and therefore very attractive to butterflies and hummingbirds. The flowerheads also make excellent cut flowers.

'Silver Frost' Butterfly Bush

'Silver Frost' Butterfly Bush (Buddleia davidii, Buddleia x wyeriana 'Silver Frost) is a woody perennial shrub that grows to 6 feet tall and 5 feet wide that bears beautiful white flowerheads (panicles) 6-8 inches long from July till season's end. The flowers are fragrant and highly attractive to butterflies and hummingbirds. The foliage may range from silvery gray to dark green. The plant is deer-resistant, easy to grow, and naturalizes easily. The flowerheads also make excellent cut flowers.

'Purple Emperor' Butterfly Bush
purple-emperor-butterfly-bush-jpg.jpgThe 'Purple Emperor' Butterfly Bush (Buddleia davidii 'Purple Emperor', also 'Pyrkeep') is one of the English Butterfly series of Buddleias, a series developed to be extra bushy, loaded with flowers, smaller, and much more compact than other varieties. It grows to 5 feet tall and 4 feet wide and stays neat even if unpruned, which makes it ideal for the small garden. The flowers are bright purple and fragrant. Others in the series are Adonis Blue, with very deep purple flowers, and Peacock, with rich pink flowers. 

Diabolo Ninebark

Most striking in any landscape, the Diabolo Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius 'Monlo') is a strain of the Ninebark deciduous shrub, native in many states. Developed by the Monrovia company, it stands out for its deep purple foliage and great abundance of creamy white flowers in summer. Given full sun it can reach 10 feet tall and as wide. In shade or partial shade, the foliage can turn green.

Diabolo Ninebark Up Close

A closer look at the Diabolo Ninebark 

Copper Red Ninebark

Copper Red Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius 'Coppertina'), often called simply "Coppertina," features beautiful orange-copper spring foliage that becomes a bright, rich red in summer and white summer flowers that turn into showy red seed capsules. Ideal for pondside plantings, woodland gardens, and wetlands, this marvelous shrub prefers full sun and medium moisture. It grows quickly and can reach 8-10 feet in height with a similar spread.

'Golden Bells' Forsythia

'Golden Bells' Forsythia (Forsythia x intermedia 'Golden Bells') is another marvel of a shrub for garden or landscape. We were too late to catch its bloom this first year, but it's said to be densely branched and extremely floriferous (one of our favorite words), producing a huge abundance of briliant golden-yellow flowers. In full sun or partial shade, it can be a spectacular attraction. 

False Spirea

False Spirea (Sorbaria sorbifolia) is a deciduous shrub with visually arresting compound foliage and, in June and July,  beautiful, dense clusters of tiny white flowers. In full sun it can grow as tall as 10 feet with a 10-foot spread. Most striking in the garden or landscape, it can also be used for erosion control, as it spreads by suckers. Another common name is Ash Leaf Spirea, due to the similarity of its foliage to that of Mountain Ash.

Snow Storm Spirea

Snow Storm Spirea (Spiraea x media) bears masses of beautiful, snowy-white flower clusters in early spring, and the foliage has a hint of blue and turns red-orange in fall. Easy to grow, it loves full sun and can mound to 5 feet tall and 4 feet wide. It's striking as a specimen plant and especially dramatic when planted in a group as a hedge. It also makes a superb container plant.  

Snow Storm Spirea Up Close

A closer look at the Snow Storm Spirea and its remarkable flowering.

Japanese Spirea

We think this spirea might be mislabeled, as Japanese Spirea (Spiraea japonica) normally bears flowers in reddish, pink, or pinkish hues, and these are as white as
can be. In any event, Japanese spirea flowers in early spring and the foliage is a very attractive light green that turns reddish-purple in fall. In full sun it can reach 5 feet tall and as wide.

White Spiraea

White Spirea (Spiraea species) creates cascades of white blossoms starting in early summer. Fast-growing, it can reach 6 feet tall and as wide. Heat-tolerant and drought-resistant, it's very easy to grow, strikes a lovely note in every garden and landscape, and when planted in groups makes beautiful hedging. 

'White Gold' Golden Spirea

'White Gold' Golden Spirea (Spiraea japonica 'White Gold') is the first known white-flowered gold-foliage spirea, and gardeners who grow it love it. The flowers are a pristine white and the leaves remain golden throughout the season. It grows in full sun to partial shade but has the best leaf color in full sun. It can grow to 2 1/2 feet tall and 5 feet wide. 


Mockorange (Philadelphus species) is a deciduous native shrub with small, attractive white flowers that resemble orange blossoms and have an exceptionally lovely fragrance. Grown in sun or partial shade, the plant can ultimately reach 12 feet tall and as wide. Species and cultivars are available in the nursery trade that offer modifications of various features, including size. Common names include Mock Orange (two words), Sweet Mock Orange, and English Dogwood. 

Dwarf Mockorange

Dwarf mockoranges may go by various varietal names. They bloom less profusely than standard mockoranges but are nonetheless attractive and have very fragrant blossoms. Their shorter stature makes them more versatile in the landscape than the standards, as they grow to about 4 feet tall, as compared with the 10-foot height of the latter. Their size also makes them ideal as container plants.

Ouachita False Indigo

Ouachita False Indigo (Amorpha ouachitensis) is a shrub native to Oklahoma and especially to the Ouachita Mountains in Arkansas. Its compound leaves and spikes of dullish purple flowers give it some interest in the garden. It likes full sun to part shade and can grow to 6 feet tall and as wide. Due to the declining population in the wild because of logging, it's considered a candidate for the federal endangered species list.

Chardonnay Pearls Deutzia

Chardonnay Pearls Deutzia (Deutzia gracilis 'Duncan') is a true winner in the garden and landscape for its bright yellow-green foliage and fragrant white star-shaped flowers. In sun or partial shade it can grow to 3 feet tall and 3 1/2 feet wide. The foliage in fall is chartreuse. Its relatively small size makes it also a superb container shrub.

'Summer Stars' Bush Honeysuckle

Summer Stars Bush Honeysuckle (Diervilia rivularis 'Morton') is not a true honeysuckle but a shrub with  honeysuckle-like flowers. It also has beautiful dark green foliage that turns brilliant orange and red in fall. It thrives in full sun to partial shade and can reach 3 feet tall by 4 feet wide. It's also more commonly known as Georgia Bush Honeysuckle, Morton Georgia Bush Honeysuckle, or simply Bush Honeysuckle.

Getting Ready for Winter

This bumblebee busily gathers pollen from the very last flower head on one of the Garden's hydrangeas. This was on October 10th, just five days away from the average date of the first killing frost in the Ozarks around Springfield, Missouri. Did you know that bumblebees hibernate during the winter? The honeybees keep busy throughout the season, but bumblebees take a break.

'Acoma' Crape Myrtle

Considered by many to be one of the most beautiful of all flowering shrubs, 'Acoma' Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica x fauriei 'Acoma') features lovely pendulous branches and pristine white flowers from June through September. In time it can reach 9 1/2 feet in height and 11 feet wide. It does best in full sun and thrives in almost any soil. It's also one of the first mildew-resistant Crape Myrtles.

'Acoma' Crape Myrtle Close Up

A closer view of the beautiful 'Acoma' Crape Myrtle flower.

Pink Velour Crape Myrtle

The Pink Velour Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica 'Whit III') has won legions of admirers for its beautiful leaves that emerge burgundy red in early spring that turn to a glossy purplish green, and for its abundance of very vibrant pink blossoms from July into September. In full sun it can grow to 12 feet in height and as wide and also has a lovely vase-shaped habit.

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