I am in Scarborough southwest between Birchmount and Fallingbrook and Kingston Rd and Danforth Ave. I am looking for a low growing bush for a space beside my front door, I don’t need it for privacy but as ornamental and if it keeps some foliage during winter even better. This spot faces south. The soil is shallow there and I need to build it up. The space is not very large but it was large enough for a winterberry tree that I had removed since its roots were invading my foundation and it was growing too tall- sad to chop it down. The tree did ok there. I must admit that I am not a good waterer or gardener. I would love a red coloured bush but honestly my first preference is obviously an appropriate bush regardless of colour and I know that I may be hard pressed to have an ornamental red bush that has foliage in the winter- we want it all. Also when would I plant it and is there a particular soil that I should choose?
A few red shrubs come to mind:
- Burning bush (Euonymus alatus) – a dwarf variety will grow to a height of around 8 feet, and can be up to 10 feet wide. The plant is green for most of the year, but cherry red in the autumn.
- The fragrant sumac (Rhus aromatica) grows 2-6 feet tall and spreads 6-10 feet. Its green leaves turn orange, red and purple in the fall. The leaves and twigs have a spicy smell when bruised. In early spring, it has small yellow flowers. It attracts birds and butterflies, and tolerates a range of soils, but needs good drainage.
- The Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii) grows 3-6 feet high, and its green leave turn orange or reddish in the autumn, while in the winter small berries emerge. A lovely shrub, but some people are put off by its sharp thorns.
We have a couple of Guides that will be of interest to you. These provide several plant names, as well as information about planting shrubs, including soil and light requirements and ongoing care:
- Ornamental Shrubs for Various Light Conditions: A Toronto Master Gardeners Guide
- Blooming Deciduous Trees & Shrubs: A Toronto Master Gardeners Guide
I’d suggest that you “google” several of these shrubs, to see what they look like, and if they would suit your garden (and also be easy to care for). You may be surprised at the variety of shrubs available! And you may decide that you prefer a shrub that’s not red in colour.
Most shrubs are best planted in the autumn or early spring, so the plant can settle in before the harsh weather (winter or summer) arrives. When you select your shrub, ask someone at the nursery for details about its care – or check back with us.