Specimen shrubs, both herbaceous and evergreen, can provide an attractive foundation for the herbaceous perennials in your border. Different types and interesting shapes, textures, and colors to complement the ever-changing perennials. When the garden is dormant, evergreens supply color and form, and certain deciduous types extend the blooming season, from yellow forsythia in early spring to brilliant red burning bush in the fall.
These are eighteen of the best shrubs for use in a mixed border. They are in alphabetical order, with name, its main feature, height and the primary hardiness zone listed.
The Best 18 Shrubs for a Mixed Border
Barberry, Crimson Pygmy (Berberis), Deep red foliage and red berries, height 3’, zone 4.
Blueberry, Low-bush (Vaccinium), Long season of red blooms, height 1’, zone 2.
Bog Rosemary (Andromeda polifolia), Pink-white flowers, 1’, zone 2.
Cotoneaster, Rock Spray (Cotoneaster), Colorful berries and foliage, 2’ and up, zone 5
Daphne (Daphne cneorum), Heavily fragrant flowers, 2’ and up, zone 4.
Evergreens (dwarf arborvitae, hemlock, spruce, and yew), Good border plants, height varies, zones vary.
Forsythia (dwarf cultivars), Early spring yellow flowers, 2’ and up, zone 4.
Heath (Erica), Nice blooms and foliage, 1’ and up, zone 5.
Heather (many kinds) (Calluna), Attractive blooms and foliage, 1’ and up, zone 5.
Honeysuckle, ‘Emerald Mound’, Yellow white flowers, red berries, 2-3’, zone 4.
Hypericum (many cultivars) (Hypercium), Long season of bright yellow blooms, 2’, zone 4.
Kalmia, Dwarf Mt. Laurel (Kalmia latifolia), Nice foliage and flowers, 3’, zone 5.
Lavender, English (Lavandula angustifolia), Fragrant rosy-purple blooms, 12-18”, zone 5.
Rhododendron, Azalea (Dwarf cultivars) (Rhododendron), Nice blooms and foliage, 2’, zone varies.
Rose (Rosa), Attractive, often fragrant flowers, 2’ and up, zone varies.
Spirea (dwarf cultivars) (Spirea), Nice spring flowers;some have good fall foliage, 2’, zone 4.
Weigela, ‘Evita’ (Weigela florida), Attractive foliage, fruits, and fall color, 2-3’, zone 4.