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Enhancing your borders with beauty of shrubs

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A shrub border will enhance and improve the value of a home in any season of the year. Shrubs may be planted at property lines, as screens from the street or close neighbors, as separators of various areas of the outdoor living section, or as easy-care substitutes for flower beds and borders.

Most gardeners are familiar with the beauty, color, and texture of their shrubs in the growing season. A variety can offer a continual series of flowers during the spring and summer, while in the fall there is the pleasure of a tremendous array of attractive foliage, from bronze and yellow to dark maroon and the brilliant red leaves that are provided by both common and exotic specimens alike.

But even during the winter, when the deciduous plants are devoid of foliage, there is the opportunity to examine and enjoy the color and texture of the bark of shrubs in the border.

Too often this experience is overlooked, and the gardener misses an added bonus from his shrubs. Consider the many colors that are prominent in the twigs of various kinds.

After the turn of a new year, most bark will disclose its individual color to a high degree. Variations of brown are common, but there are others to be noticed, too.

Branches of the red-twigged dogwood (Cornus) become characteristically showy with the passing of the winter months until, in early March, their presence in the shrub border will be an asset of bright color. They are particularly to be admired against a background of white snow.

Young willows are also glamorous with yellow twigs during the winter months. And as spring approaches, the yellow deepens to provide an intense glow in contrast with the colors of other shrubs nearby.

Bright green stems are found in winter if kerria is part of a border. This pretty shrub is well known for its yellow flowers and is a definite asset for winter color. Blending with other hues is the gray bark of several shrubs, notably many of the viburnums, weigela, lilacs, and bayberry. Black twigs are produced by rhodytypos which also holds its black berries well into spring. A variety of color in shrub branches helps offset the drabness of a barren, winter landscape.

Then there is the appealing interest in the closeup appearance of diverse shrub varieties. Take a nearby look at the twigs of different shrubs and an amazing contrast will be seen. Forsythia stems have ''freckles.'' Ninebark, as its name suggests, shows layers of peeling bark.


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