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Easy Summer Flowering Shrubs (Part One)

There is a wide range of summer flowering shrubs to add colour to your garden.

There is a wide range of summer flowering shrubs to add colour to your garden.

There’s nothing quite like the joy of watching the summer­ flowering shrubs burst into bloom, providing colour and a sense of permanence to your garden.

What would our gardens be without shrubs? They give an air of permanence, are useful for screening, whether used as formal or informal hedges or shrub bor­ders, complement the trees and flowers, provide invaluable material for floral deco­rations by way of flowers and foliage, make fine specimens and, with their vary­ing heights, break the monotony of flat level gardens. What is more they are labour saving and with careful selection flowering shrubs provide colour and interest through­out the year.

There is a wide choice of summer‑flower­ing shrubs and for easier reference they have been listed in alphabetical order. The figures in brackets indicate the ultimate height and spread of the plants.


All species are hardy and most of them are evergreen. They bear pretty, small, tubular flowers abundantly throughout summer and into autumn and the small shiny green leaves are often bronze when young.

·      X grandiflora (2m x 2m) with white flushed pink flowers makes an attractive hedge.Edward Goucher (2m x 2m) bears lilac pink flowers.

·      FRANCIS MASON (2m x 2m) bears white flushed pink flowers and in winter the foliage turns golden bronze.

·      PROSTRATA (lm x 4m) bears white flowers and its prostrate habit of growth makes it an attractive ground cover.

·      schumannii (2m x 2m) is deciduous. The lilac pink flowers, borne abundantly make a fine display.

ABUTILON (Chinese lanterns)

Evergreen but where the winters are cold they may be semi‑deciduous.

·      A. hybridum KEILER’S SURPRISE (1,5m x 1,5m) bears red flowers.

·      YELLOW GEM same height and spread, bears yellow blooms.

·      ORANGE KING same height and spread, has glowing orange lanterns.

·      PINK LADY same height and spread, bears pretty pink flowers.

·      THOMPSONII same height and spread, also bears orange flowers.

·      A. megapotamicum (1,5m x 1,5m) has a lax habit of growth and bears small bell‑shaped flowers with red calyces, yellow petals and protruding purple‑red anthers. There is also a form with variegated leaves.

Prune all back in spring to encourage new growth.

BERBERIS (Barberry)

·      B. julianae (2m x 1,3m) is evergreen, hardy and bears yellow flowers. It is a good screening shrub.

·      B. wilsonae (1,3m x 1,3m) evergreen, hardy and bears yellow flowers followed by coral berries.

BRUNFELSIA (Yesterday‑today‑and‑tomorrow)

Evergreen, semi‑hardy and bears sweetly scented flowers which open dark violet, change to pale lilac and then to white. It blooms from spring well into summer with another light flowering in autumn. The plants can be pruned in winter to keep them to size and shape. It does well in the warm parts of the country but needs some protection in cold areas.

·      B. pauciflora EXIMIA (B. CALYCIMA EXIMIA) (2,3m x 1,5m)

BUDDLEIA (Butterfly bush)

·      B. alternifolia (1,5m X lm) deciduous, hardy, has arching branches and bears spikes of rose‑tinted flowers. It is most attractive when trained as a standard.

·      B. davidii hybrids (2,5m x 1,5m) evergreen hardy, bear spikes of closely packed small flowers in shades of mauve, purple, crim­son and white set off by grey‑green foliage. The flowers are much loved by butterflies and bees. Prune back hard in winter.

CALLIANDRA brevipes (Shuttlecock flower)

Evergreen (1,5m x 1,5m) slightly tender, blooms intermittently all summer. The bush, covered with the dainty flowers which consist of puffs of anthers, white at the base and tipped in red, is a lovely sight. The plants do best in a warm sunny position and are drought resistant. Pinch back when young to encourage bushy growth. Prune in winter to keep shape and size.

CALLISTEMON (Bottle brush)

All species are evergreen and hardy. The following species flower in summer:

·      C. citrinus SPLENDENS (2,3m x 2,3m) crim­son brushes.

·      C. linearifolius (2,3m x 2,3m) crimson flowers.

·      C. linearis SCARLET BOTTLE BRUSH (2m x 1,3m) scarlet brushes.

·      C. salignus (4m x 2,5m) pale yellow flowers.

·      C. speciosus (2,3m x 2m) another red‑flow­ered species.

·      C violaceus (2m x 1,75m) purple‑violet flowers, an attractive species.

The plants do best in full sun and well drained soil. They do not have to be pruned.

CARYOPTERIS incana (Blue spiraca)

Hardy, deciduous (1 m x 1 m). Is a charming shrub which bears clusters of blue flowers much loved by bees. If the faded flowers are removed promptly the plants will flower throughout the summer. When smal,l pinch back to encourage bushy growth. Prune in winter to shape.

CASSIA didymobotrya

Evergreen (1,5m x 1,5m), although tender it can be grown in cold areas if protected when young. The colour of the canary­ yellow flowers borne in spikes is enhanced by the brown bracts. Needs no pruning except perhaps to shape a little if necessary.

CEANOTHUS (Californian lilac)

·      C. X delianthus GLOIRE DE VERSAILLES (2,6m x 2m) semi‑deciduous, hardy, is one of the best forms. It produces large panicles of powder blue flowers in summer and again in autumn. Prune back side growth in winter to prevent the plants being damaged by wind.

·      C. papillosus ROWEANUS (2,7m x 2,7m) ever­green, hardy, is striking with its rich blue flowers set off by dark green foliage. Remove dead wood and tidy up in spring.

CERATOSTIGMA willmottianum (Chinese plumbago)

Deciduous, hardy (60cm x 60cm). A delight­ful small shrub, the clear blue flowers borne in terminal and axillary heads appear throughout the summer. In autumn the leaves colour attractively before falling off and the seed heads at the ends of the stems are quite attractive. Prune down to ground level in winter.


These are attractive large shrubs for the back of the border. Evergreen and tender to heavy frost.

·      DARK RED (2,6m x 2m)

·      PRIDE OF ROSELANDS (2,6m x 2m) has beautiful salmon pink flowers.

·      PURPUREA (3m x 2m) has dull purple flower

·      YELLOW (2m x 1,5m) is free flowering with pale yellow flowers.

C. nocturnum (up to 4m x 2m) bears masses of small yellow‑green flowers which are strongly scented at night.


CHOYSIA ternata (Mexican orange blossom)

Evergreen, semi‑hardy but will stand sev­eral degrees of frost (1,5m x 1,5m). The heads of sweetly scented white flowers are set off by the dark green leaves which are aromatic when crushed. A useful shrub for screening.

CISTUS (Rock rose)

Evergreen, hardy, prefer well drained alka­line soil and rather dry conditions.

·      C. Crispus SILVER PINK (about lm x Im) has grey foliage and the five‑centimetre flowers are a soft shade of silver pink. Very hardy.

·      C. X hybridus (C. corbariensis) (60cm x 60cm) has dull green downy leaves and the white flowers with a creamy base are 38mm in diameter.

·      C. incanus (C. villosus) (1 m x 1 m) has larger flowers over six centimetres in diameter and the colour is rose pink.

·      C. laurifolius (2m x 2m) has dark green leaves and white flowers seven centimetres and more in diameter.

·      C. X purpureus (1,3m x 1,3m) has pretty rose crimson flowers with a chocolate blotch at the base. An attractive species.

CLERODENDRUM ugandese (Oxford and Cambridge bush)

Deciduous, tender but will grow in cold areas if given a sheltered position (1,5m x 1,3m). The two‑tone flowers of light‑and-­dark blue with purple filaments and blue anthers are most attractive. Prune lightly in winter to keep to size and shape.


Evergreen, (60cm x 60cm) slightly tender but will survive if touched by frost. A charming little shrub with silver foliage and white ‘morning glory’ flowers. Prefers very well‑drained soil and a sunny position.


Useful small to medium sized plants for the rockery, shrub or flower border.

·      C. hookeriana (lm x 1 m) evergreen, slightly tender. The tubular vermilion and orange flowers, arranged in dense panicles appear throughout the summer. Prune back hard at the end of winter.

·      C. ignea (C. platycentra) CIGARETTE BUSH (lm x lm) evergreen, semi‑hardy. The small tubular flowers borne at intervals toward the ends of the branchlets are bright scarlet tipped white and violet with protruding violet stamens and red styles. Prune hard in winter.

·      C. micropetala TARTAN BUSH (Im X Im) evergreen, semi‑hardy. The flowers borne in terminal leafy racemes are scarlet chang­ing to yellowish green at the tips. Prune hard in winter.


C. albus (2,6m x 1,5m) deciduous, hardy. The white broom has small pea‑shaped flowers borne on arching stems and is a lovely sight in summer. It needs a sunny position and very well drained soil.

C. canariensis (Genista canariensis) (2m x 1,5m) evergreen, hardy. The yellow broom makes a magnificent sight in mid‑summer. Pinch the plants back when young to encourage bushy growth and prune imme­diately after flowering to keep to size and shape. Grow in full sun and well drained slightly alkaline soil.

This is the first in a series of features that, together, will provide  a comprehensive guide to summer flowerng shrubs for temperate climates. Visit often to see new posts.