If you have a wet area, a pond or stream or live near Long Island Sound, finding an attractive shrub that grows well in wet conditions can be difficult. Luckily, there are some easy to grow shrubs -- beyond winterberry and shrub dogwoods -- that can take wet and, even salty soils, and thrive in your yard.
For a wet area in sun, try chokeberry or Aronia arbutifolia. This native grows 5 to 10 feet tall and wide and has white flowers in spring followed by red berries in summer. It's a great shrub for birds and has brilliant red fall foliage color.
A great native shrub for stream or pond banks is the button bush or Cephalanthus occidentalis. This shrub produces fragrant, white, round flowers in spring that a draw for butterflies and bees. The seeds are good waterfowl food. It grows 10 feet tall and wide and the bark was once used as quinine substitute.
If you have a shadier, wet area try Northern Bay Berry or Morella pennsylvanica. This tough, native shrub grows more than 6 feet tall on sandy, acidic soils. It's tolerant of high winds, salt spray and floods. The leaves and berries are aromatic and the fruits are good wildlife food.
Another good shade plant is the swamp azalea or Rhododendron viscosum. It grows 3 to 8 feet tall and has fragrant, attractive flowers in June and July. Ours are growing in shade and have flowered well.
If you live close to the seashore, grow Northern bayberry, arrowwood viburnum and high bush blueberry. The native blueberry is surprisingly salt spray and soil tolerant.