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Minter: These are some of the best flowering shrubs of summer

The hot weather's not helping, but master gardener Brian Minter says there are some flowers that should start to blossom very soon.

How's the colour and perfume in your flowering shrubs right now?

Our hot weather certainly hasn't helped, but most of us haven't yet discovered "the best of the best" summer-flowering shrubs that take warm summer weather in stride and just keep performing no matter what.

On top of the list are the new varieties of butterfly bushes — beautiful buddleias.

The old tall, woody and invasive varieties have given way to a whole new series that not only add long-blooming colour and perfume to your garden but also attract butterflies and honeybees.

Proven Winners has selected many new varieties that are non-invasive and are far more compact.

The newest and cutest is the "Pugster" series — dwarf varieties with thick, sturdy stems, much like the short, stubby build of the dog. Growing approximately 24 to 30 inches tall and wide, they are ideal for patios, and they play well with other small shrubs and with perennials and annuals to boost the colour in any garden. "Miss Molly," a stunning ruby red and "Miss Violet," the "purplest" purple, are a little taller in the four-to-five-foot range. 

Talk about impact!

The new "Chrysalis" varieties from Darwin Plants in Holland are proving to be the most compact and continuous flowering varieties on the market. They also fit nicely on the patio!

Sun- and heat-loving hydrangeas have really come a long way. PeeGee hydrangeas, like "Pinky Winky," "Zinfin Doll," "Strawberry Sundae" and "Quick Fire," are all stunning pink and white combinations that grow six feet plus. Up there, too, is the amazing "Limelight," a beautiful lime that turns cream then pink. 

Downsizing has thankfully happened, giving us "Little Lime," "Little Quick Fire," "Bobo" and "Little Lime Punch," all in the three-to-five-foot range. They make perfect summer companions in containers or as icons in small space gardens.

What shrub starts blooming in July and goes until October? Hibiscus! Although we’ve had them a while, there are many newer varieties of hibiscus available today. They come in a wide range of colours in both single and double blooms that really stand out in the garden.  The large, anemone-flowered ‘Chiffon’ series is quite remarkable, with a wide range of colours from pink and white to blue and lavender. 

"Purple Pillar" and "White Pillar" are newer columnar varieties with nice purple and white flowers, and they fit beautifully into smaller gardens. This year there is a red-pink variety, "Red Pillar" as well. The single-flowering "Satin Series" is also spectacular with a wide range of colours, all having a deep red throat.

Summersweet (Clethra ainifolia rosea) is another summer bloomer with tiny, bottlebrush-like, pink flowers that have a lovely perfume and a long flowering habit. They now come in a wide variety of colours and they do attract hummingbirds.

Speaking of sweet smelling, sweetspire (Itea virginica) is loaded with long, cascading, white flowers that perfume up any summer garden.  A few varieties are quite small (three feet tall and wide) and fit easily into small spaces.  They also have fantastic fall colours. "Little Henry" and "Scentlandia" are some of the newer types available.

Calycanthus, with its beautiful, magnolia-like blooms, is one of the most unusual summer-flowering shrubs.  Once established, it will rebloom in late summer to early fall with red, slightly perfumed flowers.  Growing only five to six feet tall and wide, its shiny foliage is quite remarkable and very unique.  Its blossoms will surely turn heads. 

These are some of the best flowering shrubs of summer. 

So, if you have some downtime in your garden right about now, these plants will really add that lift your garden needs both for you and our butterflies, bees and hummingbirds!

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