Making a case for shrubs.
Shrubs are the perfect choice for small gardens, where there may not be enough room for trees. They are also quite at home planted in planters
on a patio or balcony. In a large garden, once they become established they are the ideal way to divide the space either as a hedge or a specimen plant.
Permanence: They do not have to be replanted every year.
Year-round interest: Shrubs with evergreen foliage remain neat and interesting throughout the year. Yew, box , santolina and rosemary are old favourites long used to give structure to a cottage garden.
Resistance: Shrubs are much less susceptible to disease and cold weather than herbaceous plants.
Low maintenance: Choose a slow-growing shrub that requires little pruning, such as Syringe meyeri ’Palibin’.
Planting in a lawn: Any plant growing in a lawn will have to compete with grass for food and water. To reduce the drain on these resources, Cut out a section of turf three to four centimetres deep and as big as the plant’s root spread where you wish to plant your shrub. This removes the grass that would otherwise grown right above your plant’s roots. Plant your shrub as normal.
Tempted by a shrub in flower?: Garden centres often entice gardeners to buy wonderful flowering shrubs in the middle of summer. It’s risky trying to plant containerised shrubs when they are in flower, but if you can’t resist, there are precautions you can take to ensure you get the best possible results.
- Plant your shrub in the desired location, but leave it in its container as long as it remains in flower, making sure to keep it watered regularly.
- When it has finished flowering, cut back the branches to half their length to reduce the foliage. Remove the plant from the container and plant it normally. Make sure it remains well , watered right up until winter.
- Mulch around the plant with a thick layer of composted bark, which will keep the soil fresh and reduce evaporation.
The bigger, the better: If you want to give your shrub the best possible start in life, then make the planting hole at least twice as wide as the diameter of the rootball. The shrub will establish much more quickly and perform to its full potential.
- Don’t plant the shrub too deep: the top of the rootball should be at soil level after planting. Break up the soil at the bottom of the hole with a fork to make it easier for the roots to penetrate and get a good hold.
Colours and scents
Late-afternoon fragrance: Flowers are often at their most fragrant around five o’clock in the afternoon. Plant them where you can appreciate the scent — near windows, next to garden seats and along the paths. Choose aromatic plants that flower in different seasons to keep your garden fragrant all year. Good examples include Viburnum bodnantense, lilac, honeysuckle, single-flowered philadelphus, choisya, lavender, daphne and Mahonia ‘Charity’.
Shrubs as presents: Give a shrub to friends instead of buying a bunch of flowers. It is a present that will last for years and will be a steady reminder of your friendship.
A cool blue summer: To bring a fresh feeling to your garden at the height of summer, plant shrubs with blue flowers such as blue forms of buddleja, hebe, ceanothus, hibiscus syriacus, caryopteris and perovskia.
- These sun-loving species prefer a sheltered site with well-drained soil, and in these conditions they are frost-hardy. For healthy plants, feed them with a complete fertiliser containing trace elements.
Autumn on fire: Many shrubs have wonderful, warm autumn hues, changing to yellow, orange and bright red. The best colours are achieved after a good summer, one that is hot and dry, but not parched. For wonderful autumn colour choose plants such as Amelanchier lamarckii, Acer japonicum, Cottinus coggygria, Enkianthus campanulatus,Euonymus alatus and Rhus typhina.
To maximise your chance of success with a plant that is not suited to your soil conditions, use a lined trench. However,you will still need to renew the acidic mulch from time to time.
1. Summer scent:
Late-flowering Buddleja crispa has fragrant lilac-pink flowers in July. It is best grown against a sunny wall.
Pink hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla) like rich, alkaline soil.
Rhododendrons need acid soil.
4. Early fragrance:
The early-spring flowers of the Mexican orange (Choisya ternata) have a delicious scent.
5. Bright spring flowers: One of the classics, Forsythia x intermedia 'Spectabilis’ makes a delightful hedge.
6. Blue cascades:
The fountain buddleia (Buddleia alternifolia) has overhanging branches that are covered in flowers in June.