Happy Threesomes (Part 3)

By Kerry Ann Mendez

The first two recommended "threesomes" were ideal for sun to part sun areas. Now it's time to introduce some superstars for part shade.

Japanese Maples

I love Japanese Maples (Acer palmatum), especially those with burgundy-red leaves. Two striking, mid-size Japanese Maples are 'Fireglow' and 'Bloodgood'. Both grow between 10-20' tall and are hardy to Zone 5. Their graceful branching habit is particularly striking in the winter landscape.

Clethra

Commonly called Summersweet, Clethra is a fantastic native shrub to partner with Japanese Maples. Clethra 'Compacta', 'Hummingbird' and 'Sugartina Crystalina' are smaller cultivars (2-5' tall) with highly fragrant white flowers in mid to late summer. Their foliage turns buttery-yellow in fall, contrasting brilliantly with the maple's red leaves.

Brunnera

Perennial Brunnera macrophylla, commonly called Siberian Bugloss, draws the eye spring through fall. Bright blue, forget-me-not like flowers billow above large heart-shaped foliage in spring. 'Jack Frost' is probably the best known cultivar with frosty-silver leaves intersected by green veins. Other sensational varieties include 'Sterling Silver' and 'Emerald Mist'. A sweep of Siberian Bugloss in front of the Summersweet completes the threesome!

Kerry Ann Mendez
KERRY ANN MENDEZ is an award-winning garden educator, author and design consultant based in southern Maine. Her latest book is The Budget-Wise Gardener. You'll now find her at our Kennebunk store consulting on garden design, answering your gardening questions and much more.