Flowering shrubs are beautiful additions to any property. Many species available appear delicate, but are actually quite hardy, and easily handle the temperature variations of a common Calgary summer.
With more than three generations of experience, we at Mirage are professional landscape designers experienced with working in Calgary’s often-challenging climate. We know exactly where to place your trees, shrubs, and perennials so that they have the best chance of thriving to offer you years and years of enjoyment.
Options for flowering shrubs
- Forsythia: The first to bloom every year, forsythia shrubs sprout beautiful yellow flowers early in the season and provide your first introduction to spring. Their branches make for a great bouquet, as well. Prune back older branches once the flowers fade to ensure solid growth year after year.
- Lilac: Lilac shrubs produce a gorgeous aroma and stunningly beautiful light purple flowers beginning around late May. They grow to be rather large, so they need a lot of room, and require regular pruning and care. Full sun exposure is essential.
- Nanking cherry: Producing pink flowers in the spring, Nanking cherry shrubs also grow edible fruit as the season continues. Provide nutrient-rich soil that drains well to help ward off bacterial infections.
- Double-flowering plum: Full sun exposure and well-draining soil will help these shrubs produce an abundance of spherical, double-pink flowers.
- Hydrangea: These highly durable shrubs are a good alternative to lilacs if you’re looking for something a little lower-maintenance and smaller. However, make sure you’re buying a Zone 3 hydrangea, as the Zone 4 variety probably won’t thrive in Calgary.
- Snowball: These large plants can grow up to 15 feet wide and 12 feet tall, producing puffy white flowers that look like snowballs. They are also easy to maintain, making them excellent for beginners.
- Spirea: Choose from spirea that bloom in spring or summer — both produce beautiful white, pink, and red flowers.
- Weeping caragana: A solid choice for yards that get sun as well as shade, weeping caragana is most beautiful in fall, when its leaves turn a brilliant yellow.
- Barberry: An outstanding choice for dry Calgary summers, barberry shrubs thrive in arid conditions and produce beautiful pink-burgundy flowers. Beware of the thorns, however!
The beautiful rose
Depending on whether you live on Calgary’s sunny, grassy outer east edges, or at the western perimeter, where the terrain becomes more forested as elevations rise, you are in Canadian Zone 2 or 3 for plant hardiness. Many types of roses fall into the Zone 3 range, but many are Zone 4 or higher. This does not mean that growing roses is impossible, though, just that this means is that they need a little more help
The fundamental decisions you have to make about growing roses in Calgary are twofold: 1) Do you have adequate space and light available to grow roses in this climate? and; 2) How much labour to you want to put in to keep your roses healthy?
Due to the short growing season in Calgary, roses need at least six hours of strong daylight to become as established as possible before the next winter. Roses prefer about six feet of ground space, away from trees, and soil of a slightly acidic pH level. The hardier “prairie rose” or “shrub rose” subtypes can work well in Calgary, but there are well over 100 types of winter-hardy varietals that can get your rose garden started right and lasting through solidly into the spring thaw.
While roses aren’t shrubs, strictly speaking, they are among the most popular garden flowers and many different types grow well in Calgary. If you want to add roses to your garden, experts recommend these varieties:
- Explorer roses: Named for famous explorers from Canadian history, like Cabot, Champlain, and McKenzie, explorer roses are hardy enough to survive harsh Calgary winters and bloom into full beauty when spring returns.
- Parkland Series roses: Prairie Joy, Morden Blush, and Winnipeg Park
Sustainable landscaping contributes to the health of the overall environment
Sustainable landscaping is a way to design your yard that improves your outdoor surroundings while also working to enhance the overall health of the environment. The Oxford Dictionary defines sustainable as, “Avoiding the depletion of natural resources.” That is exactly what sustainable landscaping aims to do. It can range from doing your best to avoid using pesticides that can get into our groundwater to planting a garden using only native species.
Ways to incorporate sustainable landscaping into your property’s landscape design includes:
- Companion planting, where you place species to help each other to grow and thrive.
- Mulch works wonderfully, especially in Calgary’s unpredictable weather, and is an essential component of sustainable gardening.
- There is a movement towards using more plants native to Alberta as well as allowing parts of yards and properties to “go natural,” such as creating a pretty little meadow.
- Sustainable landscaping includes a planting for food component.
- Using less water contributes to sustainability. Installing underground irrigation helps to save on this precious resource.
Residential and commercial professional landscaping services from Mirage