The hot new trend in hybridizing shrubs is shorter, more compact growth. They’re a boon to homeowners who hate to prune — and when the shrubs are planted in the right spot, all that needs to be done is possibly a bit of shaping and the removal of any dead wood.

These downsized shrubs are also perfect for use in smaller landscapes and are nice editions to perennial gardens and borders where colorful foliage and flowers provide seasonlong interest. They’re also great for use in containers. Choose an 18-inch pot or larger and use a potting mix that contains composted pine bark. In winter plan to store them in a protected area, such as garage or tool shed.

The charming Gold Beret Barberry (Berberis) rises to just 12 inches and at maturity and sports gorgeous golden leaves that turn red in the fall. Mini Maroon Barberry is a burgundy beauty, reaching 12 to 24 inches and is thankfully sterile. Barberries do best in full sun.

For those who love to attract butterflies and hummers, the Buddleia Prince Charming Butterfly Bush maxes out at 3 to 4 feet in height and produces flower panicles in luscious shades of pink. Even though it’s a relatively short shrub, cutting back hard in spring is recommend to encourage heavy blooming from summer through frost. Because it’s a small shrub, this is a quick and easy job. This, too, is a full sun lover.

Weigela Spilled Wine produces deep purple foliage and stunning pink flowers in springtime. Climbing to 24 to 36 inches when mature, it’s deer resistant and happiest in six hours or more of full sun. Like all Weigela, it’s drought resistant once established.

The good news is all of these pretties are hardy to Zone 5.

Appearances: Join me and celebrate the arrival of spring at English Gardens’ Garden Party Weekend. Saturday at 10 a.m., I will talk about hot trends and problem solving in the garden at English Gardens in Clinton Township. At 1 p.m. I will be at the West Bloomfield English Gardens, and at 4 p.m. I will speak at the Dearborn Heights store.

At noon Sunday I will speak at the Royal Oak English Gardens and at 3 p.m. I will be at the Eastpointe store. All programs are free. For addresses and information check the English Gardens website:

Nancy Szerlag is a master gardener and Metro Detroit freelance writer. Her column appears Fridays in Homestyle. To ask her a question go to and click on Ask Nancy. You can also read her previous columns at detroitnewscom/homestyle.

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