There is a world of highly scented, delicate or dramatic, vivid or sedate colored flowering plants out there and one of the joys of planning a new garden or redesigning an old one is searching for the perfect one for you. It is not unusual to find the bulbs and ground cover, select the tall and impressive and shade giving, but find that the space between the two has been forgotten, and this is where shrubs come in. A fabulous addition to any landscape, they give texture and shape in edging for paths and depth to borders and beds, a very satisfying part of your planting that is often fast growing and giving oomph when most else is still settling in and growing. Lagerstroemia ‘Enduring Summer Lavender’ is a fantastic example of how easy it can be to obtain something dramatic and appealing, but having to do very little in order to achieve it. With its proliferation of small paper-like flowers in fat clusters this shrub brings real color and drama to your green spaces, with its unopened buds almost red in color before early summer sees a multitude of purple flowers spring forth. As if that was not enough, this show continues like the very best that Broadway has to offer, over and over until the first frosts when it takes a break for winter. A charming shrub that upon maturity will be a four foot plant that just gives and gives and gives.
Native to the Indian subcontinent, south-east Asia, northern Australia and Oceania, Lagerstroemia is at home in all warmer climates and is mostly found as loose and leggy trees. However, their highly desirable flowers have seen a move in recent times to cultivate varieties that can be more widely introduced into domestic gardens. Of course, the re-blooming ‘Enduring Summer Lavender’ goes that step further, with its ability to bring flowers to your property for such an impressive amount of the year. Quite unlike many showy flowering shrubs, this one also boasts interesting foliage that is pretty enough even before taking the blooms into consideration. New leaves appear with a red tinge, before unfurling to expose a deep matt green; each is smooth and ovular, and presents quite a juxtaposition to the frilly flowers they provide the background to. Both the stems and the bark are in on the act too and do not feel the need to sit quiet and unnoticed, with the stems the color of a rich burgundy wine and the trunk displaying the unusual and highly textured peeling habit that Lagerstroemia are known for. So even when your shrub has given its all and is sitting naked among the evergreens all is not lost, as these lovely elements that were hidden by foliage in spring, summer and fall are now thrust into the limelight, unfettered by their showy friends.
Growing to around 4 feet high and 5 feet wide the ‘Enduring Summer Lavender’ is a very compact and tidy shrub that sits low to the ground, and this appealing shape requires little intervention from you – if any at all. As is common with these plants, something they will punish you for is poor drainage and sodden roots are not appreciated in the slightest, so be sure that your chosen site is of the well drained variety. Drought tolerance is high on the list of bonuses and after the first growing season it is highly resistant to dry conditions, but in that first season do take care to water regularly. Just because it is tolerant of drought, it is still a good idea to keep it watered throughout the flowering period as this will aid the production of flowers.
Something else to be aware of is the pH levels of your soil, as ‘Endless Summer Lavender’ definitely prefers acidic soil. If you do have alkaline soil then a consideration is pot planting one of these delightful shrubs; just be aware that in pots they are slightly more sensitive to the cold and so will likely need taking into a garage or shed in the winter months. So if you choose a pot, be sure you are able to move it without the assistance of a crane. Pot planting in this manner is also an option if you are in an area that would ordinarily be slightly too cold for the plant to survive the winter. Whether in the ground or in a pot, be sure to allow your shrub as much sun as possible as although it will tolerate partial shade it will flourish more readily with lots of warm sunshine.
Early spring is the best time to plant out your new ‘Endless Summer Lavender’ and as with most new plants there are a few basic things that should be followed. The hole ought to be twice the size of the pot the plant arrived in, and in this case there is no need to add fertilizer at this stage; it might have the knock on effect of discouraging the roots from spreading out past where the nutrient-rich fertilizer is. Gently remove the plant from its pot before placing in the hole, ensuring that the top of the soil around the root-ball matches that of the native earth around it. Backfill the hole with an eye on keeping that level the same. Once planted, water well and continue to water five times a week for the first few months; this can be reduced to as little as once a week if the weather is cooler and wetter.