Bold Impact

By Karen Chapman of Le jardinet

If you’re looking for a low-maintenance shrub that’s deer-resistant, rabbit-resistant, drought-tolerant and has outstanding foliage then look no further than Orange Rocket barberry (Berberis thunbergii ‘Orange Rocket’ PP18411). This award-winning deciduous shrub wakes up the spring garden with its bright coral-orange leaves and pale yellow flowers. By mid-summer, the hue matures to rich burgundy but the colors really explode in fall as the leaves turn incendiary shades of ruby red and deep orange.

This cultivar has a narrow fountain shape making it easy to integrate into smaller gardens as a vertical exclamation point but it also makes an excellent container specimen. Its thorny stems are studded with red berries in winter adding color even in the coldest months of the year. Color combinations are limited only by your imagination. Cool the fiery tones by adding silver, white, and lime green, or try these sizzling hot ideas. Either way, this is a shrub that is guaranteed to create a bold impact.

Close-up of a bush with vibrant red leaves.

Deer Resistant Drama

Do deer treat your garden like their personal buffet? Try this trio either in the landscape or a big container and they’ll have to dine elsewhere.

Kaleidoscope abelia (Abelia x grandiflora ‘Kaleidoscope’) is an exceptional evergreen shrub that offers colorful foliage, seasonal color change, and tubular white flowers that hummingbirds love. It is easily pruned should it get too big for its allotted space and is also remarkably drought-tolerant. Best of all the deer leave it alone! The yellow and green variegated leaves have rich rosy tints in both spring and fall, that warm color echoing the barberry leaves.

To complete the vignette add Wilma’s Gold rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Wilma’s Gold’). This evergreen herb can be grown as a ground cover in the landscape or a colorful trailer at the edge of containers. This sturdy golden rosemary repeats the lighter notes of the abelia leaves while introducing a finer texture. Like its companions, this edible herb is drought-tolerant and deer resistant.

A dense cluster of multicolored foliage with leaves in varying shades of green, yellow, and orange.


If you enjoy a combination of fabulous flowers as well as great foliage this is for you. Begin by adding Black Adder phormium, syn. Black Adder New Zealand flax (Phormium cookianum Black Adder PP20451) to the barberry to establish a foliage framework that offers height, structure, and year-round interest. The dramatic deep burgundy Phormium blades contrast well with the smaller barberry leaves and add depth to the brighter color. Then turn up the heat by introducing Illumination ‘Apricot’ Digiplexis (Digiplexis® Illumination® ‘Apricot’ PPAF). This re-blooming perennial boasts tall spires of orange-pink foxglove-like flowers that will have the hummingbirds dive-bombing your garden like veteran fighter pilots all summer long.


If you prefer to combine these plants in a large container, add in some additional summer color with lantana and a million bells (Calibrachoa hybrid) in shades of yellow, hot pink, and orange. These will spill over the edge of the pot and balance the height and vertical lines of the other plants while enhancing the vibrant fiery color scheme.

A close-up of a red flax plant with tall, slender, and pointed reddish-purple leaves. Green foliage is visible in the background.

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