New England weather can be difficult for the home gardener. When selecting shrubs and bushes it is important to consider the issues of climate and growing season. You want things in your garden to provide color and texture not only during the summer months; you want them to provide beauty during the long, cold winter months. In light of the growing concerns regarding invasive species, this list contains only ornamental plants that are native to the region.
The Bayberry plant is drought tolerant, produces small flowers and is hardy even in cold weather. Throughout the fall and winter months it provides small berries that will attract migrating birds. These berries will also attract the birds upon their spring return. During the fall the bush will produce burgundy colored leaves.
The Summersweet, or Sweet Pepper bush produces lovely white flowers during the late summer. When fall arrives the foliage will turn yellow or golden brown. Partial to full sun and moist conditions, this bush will attract butterflies and other nectar lovers. It is tolerant to salty soils and prefers acidic surroundings. This bush is native to all of New England although it doesn’t appear frequently in Maine.
Buttonbush is another native plant that does well near or in water features. With shiny green leaves and greenish-white flowers that grow in clusters, this is a visually attractive plant. The bush is often used as a nesting site for birds and will attract butterflies to your garden. The seeds provide texture and interest during the cold months.
The Spicebush is unique in that all parts of it are aromatic if crushed. This bush blooms during the earliest part of the spring, bringing life back to your garden as quickly as possible. It does best in well drained soil, but is adaptable well to almost any conditions. Thick, long leaves will feed swallowtail caterpillars in the summer and turn a beautiful shade of yellow in the fall. Native to all areas of New England, it also produces berries for birds and other animals in the fall.
American Holly is native in the southern parts of New England. Though technically a tree, growing up to 30 feet when fully mature, this plant provides interest year round, and is often maintained at bush size. Particularly hardy in acidic and salty soils, it does well in more severe conditions when well established. A few years of careful management will ensure a long lived, attractive plant. Holly is an evergreen that maintains its beautiful, shiny leaves through the entire winter. An additional feature is the bright red berries produced in the fall if you have a male and female within 100 feet of each other.
Blueberry bushes are almost synonymous with New England. Different varieties will allow you to choose the one that best suits your landscape and goals. Spring blooms give way to summer fruit and autumn will bring colorful foliage. To protect your fruit you may want to invest in netting, or the birds and deer will provide fierce competition. Blueberry bushes like acidic soil, with good drainage and plenty of moisture. If you select a number of varieties you can have blueberries all summer long. Rarely bothered by insects, blueberries are fun and nutritious to grow.
There are numerous other plants you can add to your New England landscape to provide color and beauty to your home. A good nursery can help you make the best decisions for your particular needs and location.