Name some qualities you appreciate in a shrub. It might be a compact growth habit that does not require a lot of fussing and pruning. Perhaps flowers might be on the list as well. How about one that can be grown in sun or partial shade? Oh, here’s another one: A shrub that can take wet soils or dry conditions, or even compacted soil. One that is a native and provides food for wildlife as well would be worthwhile qualities, too.

Now consider how few shrubs can fit into the “box” of those qualifications and are hardy in our growing Zone 5, in fact, are hardy down to growing Zone 3. But there is one, and that’s good reason for it to be chosen as Landscape Shrub of the Year by Proven Winners.

This year's Landscape Shrub of the Year is an exciting new variety of a native genus. It's Low Scape Mound Aronia melanocarpa.

The genus of deciduous shrubs Aronia are the chokeberries, in the family Rosaceae native to eastern North America, and most commonly found in wet woods and swamps.

Low Scape Mound chokeberry is smaller than other varieties – it's just one to two feet tall and wide. This makes it a great size for many landscape uses. (If you need something a little bigger, check out its sister plant, Low Scape Hedger).

According to Proven Winners, which introduces this shrub, aronia breeding has historically focused upon fruit production. The Low Scape plants come from a breeding program that pursues the ornamental appeal of the genus. With its pretty flowers and bright fall foliage, there was a lot of potential there. Mark Brand of the University of Connecticut developed this outstanding plant.

Why get excited about Aronia melanocarpa? According to the developers at Proven Winners, “Much of the excitement about the plant comes from the fact that it checks off a lot of the boxes that customers have marked on their “Plants I Want You To Introduce surveys.”

It is compact, adaptable to most soils, including wet, dry and somewhat compacted ones and salt-tolerant. It can thrive in sun or partial shade, and is hardy in USDA growing Zones 3 through 9. Low Scape Mound is covered with dainty white flowers in the spring and in addition it delivers multi-season interest on a native shrub that supports wildlife populations. Birds like the dark, purple-black fruit, although they may not get around to eating it until later in the season. In the meantime its brilliant-red fall foliage makes it a standout in any landscape.

Although Low Scape Mound isn't a top deer delicacy, they do like the flower tips and may nibble those in some areas. In addition, anyone interested in a plant that excels in fruit production may prefer a variety developed for that purpose, such as Viking.