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Plant some flowering shrubs close to your house so you can enjoy their color and fragrance for years

Light lavender lilac blooms clustered on green stems.
Plant flowering shrubs like lilac near your home (but not too close, as they can grow 10 to 12 feet high!) and enjoy their color and fragrance for decades.

Their heady fragrance can transport you; plant tall or smaller flowering shrubs for color and scent all season.

Flowering shrubs combine knockout appearance and fragrance, and many types thrive in our growing zones. Some grow into large and showy plants with headly fragrance and work best in the landscape. Other flowering shrubs are more demure and can provide cuttings that you can bring indoors to tuck into your favorite vase.

Knowing where to plant and which type to grow can help you enjoy their color and fragrance for years to come.

'Walk by and gawk' flowering shrubs

These large flowering shrubs are ones you can plant close to a window or doorway so when you open them up to the warm weather, the flowers' sweet scent wafts in on a summer breeze.

In Vermont, some flowering shrubs that grow well are syringa vulgaris or lilac. Just note that some of the French lilac hybrids — which are the most fragrant ones — can grow 10 to 12 feet tall. Make sure you choose a space where it will have enough room to grow and not end up blocking a window, doorway or walkway.

Korean spice viburnum will be flowering soon and this one is a bushier, mid-sized shrub. It grows up six feet tall with intensely fragrant flowers and its berries provide color through the fall.

'Stop and sniff' flowering shrubs

The other group of flowering shrubs are lower-growing ones that will top out around 3 or 4 feet tall and could work well around a deck or patio.

Try a dwarf fothergilla, or witch alder, which blossom into white bottlebrush flowers that are very fragrant. Summersweet, or clethra, comes in a dwarf variety called, Sugartina, and has fragrant flowers that will blossom in mid-summer. And, of course, any rose bushes falls into this category, too.

Q: After starting to get water in my basement, I had a sump pump installed. Are there options that I could plant that would like that water but not damage the piping? - Carolyn, Westport, NY

A: If you've piped that water out into your backyard and it is in a partly sunny area, there are some plants that do well in those conditions!

Begin with a host of colorful perennials like a white Joe Pye weed, a red bellflower like Lobelia cardinalis or a yellow rocket like ligularia. Any of the hostas and ferns would do well, too.

An intense blue wildflower called gentian blooms in August and September and is a low-growing one. Or you could try some shrubs, like winter berries.

Try to stay away from growing things like willows, which have strong root systems which might cause issues with pipes.

Q: This will be our third summer in Vermont. When we moved to the Northeast Kingdom, we noticed a lot of gardens without fences and not as many deer, so we put up a short electric fence to keep groundhogs and rabbits out. It worked well for the past two years until this winter, when we found hoof prints in the snow and deer droppings in the garden. I left dead plants in the garden over the winter and I wonder if that attracted them? Do you think we need to put up a high fence in order to keep them out? Or would the low electric fence be enough of a deterrent? - Lisa, in Lyndonville

A: The low electric fence could work if you have a couple of fence strands low enough to keep those smaller critters out and then a higher strand about four feet up to deter deer.

Make sure the fence is turned on now before anything is growing. That ensures that when the deer come to check out your garden, they'll get a shock. Once they've gotten zapped a number of times, they'll get the message and steer clear of your gardens.

All Things Gardening is powered by you, our audience! Send us your toughest conundrums and join the fun. Submit your question via email, to, or better yet, leave a voicemail with your gardening question so we can use your voice on the air! Call Vermont Public at 1-800-639-2192.

Listen to All Things Gardening Sunday mornings at 9:35 a.m., and subscribe to the podcast to listen any time.

Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally recognized garden writer, radio and TV show host, consultant, and speaker. Charlie is the host of All Things Gardening on Sunday mornings at 9:35 during Weekend Edition on Vermont Public. Charlie is a guest on Vermont Public's Vermont Edition during the growing season. He also offers garden tips on local television and is a frequent guest on national programs.
Mary Williams Engisch is a local host on All Things Considered.