“Dear Winter,

I’m breaking up with you. It’s time I start seeing other seasons. Like Spring. He gives me Flowers.

— Me”

Shrubs are the garden’s best investments. There are so many new and better varieties of our old-fashioned shrubs. Everyone loves hydrangea, but the old Anna Belle flops over in the rain and comes only in white. The new hydrangeas related to Anna Belle have been developed to be more compact and come in white, pink or green. These are called Incrediball hydrangeas and Invicibelle hydrangeas, examples include Mini Mauvette and Incrediball Blush. There are a whole series of sturdier hydrangeas out there. Proven Winner is a company that you can rely on for smaller, sturdier varieties.

Another old favorite shrub is the Barberry. This is a nice mounding shrub but considered an invasive. There are new varieties coming out that are not invasive because they are considered sterile. They are the Sunjoy series, Sunjoy Mini Maroon and Sunjoy Todo.

An old-time favorite that is back in fashion is Beautyberry, Callicarpas. I think this is beautiful in the late summer but disappointing in foliage color. It needs a protected area.

Aronia is a shrub, but some of the new cultivars are considered ground cover. Another name for Aronia is chokeberry.

When buying plants in May, the blooming ones might catch your eye immediately. That’s OK, but if you want shrubs that flower in summer and fall, read your labels and do your homework.

Garden center shelves are full of chemicals used to control weeds, but some of the safer solutions can provide effective weed control. One way is to dig them out when the ground is wet. I recently received a call about corn gluten meal as a pre-emergent organic herbicide. Yes, corn gluten mean applied in early spring will work and has some fertilizing properties. Post-emergent herbicides include burnout weeds and grass killer, clove oil, Scythe herbicide and fatty acid, which helps kill crab grass. I am always very cautious using heavy-duty chemicals on lawns where your pets may roam.

Contact Phyllis Both by email at pboth@charter.net or by telephone on Monday mornings at the Sauk County UW-Extension office, 608-355-3253.

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