I never went to proper journalism school like my daughter, where they teach you how to make catchy headlines among other things. I just throw stuff out there and see what sticks.
Apparently people love lists and better yet, numbered lists. I may be one of the last few people who knew this. But thinking back, I reviewed my own habits and yes, I like lists too. I think lists are for our lazy side; we appreciate someone else ferreting out the information and distilling it down to the essence.
In a previous post I discussed the importance of trees for butterfly gardening. Shrubs have high wildlife value as well, in the form of flowers, seeds and fruit, and all those things make for beautiful seasonal interest too. Shrubs are easy to grow, plant them, maybe prune them every now and then, but mostly they're just good to go.
So here we go...
- Ceanothus or New Jersey Tea: Butterflies are attracted to the nectar in the fragrant white spikes of flowers. It's also a larval host plant for some species of azure and dusky wing butterflies. In addition, turkeys and quail eat the seeds of this native plant. During Revolutionary War times the gray green foliage was dried to make tea.
- Rhus typhina or Staghorn Sumac: A statuesque native shrub with large fern-like foliage that turns bronze-red in fall. The distinctive flowers attract butterflies and the large seed-heads are favored by other forms of wildlife.
- Fothergilla or Witch alder: This shrub has something for every season; starburst shaped flowers that attract butterflies, fresh green serrated foliage and gorgeous fall color.
- Lindera benzoin or Spicebush: The eponymous larval host plant of the Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly, this shrub grows in sun to partial shade but likes a moist soil. The blooms are small and pale yellow, eventually turning to glossy red fruit.
- Clethra alnifolia or Summersweet: The fragrant racemes of white flowers are a welcome sight in July and August. Both butterflies and hummingbirds are attracted to these blooms. The brown capsule shaped seeds are valued by other wildlife as well. This shrub is adaptable to both sun and shade, and tolerates moist soil.
- Amelanchier or Serviceberry: Is it a tree or a shrub? It can be grown as a single-stemmed small tree or a multi-branched large shrub. However it is grown, the flowers and fruit are important to pollinators and other wildlife. Lots of lacy white flowers adorn the branches in spring followed by dark purple fruit in fall. It is also a larval host plant to many butterfly species.
- Cornus or Dogwood: There are many cultivars of this native plant that are invaluable as both a nectar plant and larval host to many butterflies. Pagoda Dogwood is a graceful variety that provides food for wildlife and structure to the garden.
- Syringa or Lilac: This beautiful but tough plant should not be discounted. Laden with clusters of nectar-rich purple, pink or white flowers, it is an important source of first nectar come spring time.
Fothergilla "Mt. Airy" (The Garden Buzz)
Spring flowers of Amelanchier or Serviceberry (The Garden Buzz)
There are lots of other deserving shrubs that missed the list, buttonbush and coralberry to name a few. Are there others that you would like to add? Let me know!