For low evergreen growth, semi-formal or naturalistic, there are several good shrubs. The showiest is Azalea amoena, which is ablaze with little solferino blossoms in May and in autumn has bronzed foliage. Keep the blossoms away from everything not green or white; the color is the fighting kind. Three kinds of cotoneaster, all with gay berries through the winter; as many of the andromedas; Crataegus pyracantha, which has brilliant orange berries; Phyllyrea decora, Rhododendron ferrugineum, Rhododendron hvrsutum, Euonymus japonicus and the lovely little garland flower (Daphne cneorum) are others. The garland flower is so low that it drops conveniently into lists of perennials supposed to be herbaceous. Though little known, it is among the choicest of hardy garden plants. The clustered pink blossoms—coming in May and again, more sparsely, at the end of summer—are deliciously fragrant.
For holly-like effects without regularity there are the American and Japanese mahonias, both with early yellow blossoms, and Ostnanthus aquifolium, which is quite dwarf.
Although evergreen shrubs bloom, it is the deciduous ones that, for convenience, are called flowering shrubs. Here the riches are so embarrassing that only parks and vast estates can hope to sound very deep the joys of possession. One catalogue lists no less than eighty-eight hardy species and these are sub-divided into nearly four hundred varieties. Eighty-eight species; yet how many can be called at all common in dooryards ? The lilac, snowball, Japan quince, weigela, Philadelphus coronarius, deutzia, Spiraea Van Houttei, Hydrangea paniculata, forsythia, althea and bush honeysuckle—less than a dozen. No fault is to be found with these eleven shrubs, they will always be among the best; but there are others that deserve to be just as familiar.
Nor is this all of the pity. There is much ignorance of the fact that the commonest kinds have not been standing still; new species and new hybrids have been coming along. Once all you had to know about a lilac was that it was either white or purple; nowadays there are double and single ones, with enormous trusses and such fancy names as Comte Horace de Choiseul and Souvenir de Louis Spaeth. White has cream and yellowish shades, while purple is varied by hues styled red, blue, lavender, lilac and violet. Lilacs, too, may be Hungarian, Persian or Rouen and—you must not say lilac but syringa. Once upon a time syringa meant the white flower which is called mock orange in its larger form. Now you have to say phila-delphus for mock orange, and there are double and single named kinds. Snowball is viburnum; if you know a dozen species you are not through with the cultivated list. The old pink and white weigelas have a host of variants, altheas go by name instead of color, spirea and hydrangea species have multiplied and you are obliged to ex-plain sometimes which one of four forsythias you mean.
So, before ordering even these familiar flowering shrubs, study the catalogue for a line on the improvements and variations of the type; better still, visit a nursery in the blooming season. Study, in particular, the new lilacs, altheas, weigelas and deutzias, the unfamiliar viburnum, spirea and hydrangea species, the variety of bush honeysuckles and the double mock orange. The althea, or rose of Sharon, which is being developed largely in the double forms, ought to be on every place, as it blooms later than most shrubs.
Of shrubs that are not so common, there is an altogether too scant showing of deciduous azaleas, magnolias and flowering crabs (Malus) in the hardy garden. Named varieties of Azalea mollis are strikingly fine for early yellow, red and rose effects, as the bloom precedes the foliage. This azalea will do well in the open, but it and the gorgeous flame azalea (A. calendulacea) are the better for being treated as undergrowth in partial shade. A dozen two-foot plants of either sells for about seven dollars and a half. Magnolias occasionally are winter-killed even after standing for so many years that they have become trees of considerable size; but often a single season's bloom is worth the cost. The dwarf species (M. stellata), which costs two dollars and a half for the three-foot size, is a beautiful garden shrub, especially when it blooms by the side of forsythia. The creamy Chinese magnolia (M. conspicua) and the purplish Japan species (M. atropurpúrea) are best suited for the edge of the garden unless the layout is an extensive one. The flowering crabs are really small trees. The Siberian crab (Malus baccata) is a good choice; so are the double M. spectabilis alba fl. pi. and the dwarf M. Toringo. Four-foot trees are under a dollar in price.
The amygdaline, or almond, group offers, in its way, quite as much beauty. The double pink and white almonds (Amygdalus chinensis) are charming shrubs that are grossly neglected nowadays. These are very hardy. The double pink and white peaches perish more easily, but, like the magnolias, they give in a short life the worth of the money spent. The blood-leaved peach has excellent dark foliage. Another shrub in this group, A. sibirica, begins to bloom in late March or early April.
Small trees of laburnum (Cytisus), which need a little shelter; dogwood (Cornus florida), both the white and the rare pink; the Japan Judas tree (Cercis japónica), silver bell (Halesia tetraptera), witch hazel (Hamamelis japónica), cornelian cherry (Cornus mascula), double English hawthorn (Crataegus oxyacantina) and white fringe (Chionanthus Virginia) all make good" garden shrubs. Those that grow large develop slowly; but none of them should be planted without due allowance for future expansion, as transplanting is not so easy as with shrubs proper.
What used to be called wallflower (Kerria japónica) in the old double form has a great deal of garden effectiveness in the species; the single yellow blossoms have a long season and the green branches are handsome. The white kerria (Rhodotypos kerrioides) is quite as good and it has black berries that last all winter. Other fine white-flowered shrubs, yet rarely seen, are the pearl bush (Exochorda grandiflora) and the dwarf Juneberry (Amelanchier botryapium).