New Jersey tea (Ceanothus americanus) is a lovely little flowering shrub. It grows 2-3 feet tall and about 3 feet wide wide and prefers full sun and well-drained soil. It’s coming into bloom now, and no flower attracts pollinators like this one. They hover around the blossoming shrubs in crowds.
The bright green deciduous leaves are somewhat tealike in form, and during the American Revolution, the colonists, starved for British tea imports, used them as one of many tea substitutes–hence the common name. Various parts of the plant are said to have been used by Native Americans as medicines. Deer and rabbits, the bane of my garden, generally leave this plant alone, and it is pest- and disease-free.
I have several of these shrubs in my perennials gardens–you see it in the photo above surrounded by sundrops (Oenethera fruiticosa). Because of its neat shape and size, New Jersey tea fits into a border than most shrubs. But it would make a lovely low-growing hedge in a sunny spot, with the bonus of very, very pretty flowers in in June. And besides, it’s named after New Jersey. Give it a try.