Grow shrubs as garden stalwarts
Shrubs offer visual interest all year round – whether in full bloom or with bare stems set against the winter sky.
Add shrubs to your garden to create a permanent framework, around which you can add other flowers and bulbs to create a fantastic overall garden display.
You can choose evergreen shrubs for foliage interest all-year round or deciduous shrubs that lose their leaves at the end of the season, having turned lovely shades of reds and yellows in autumn.
Shrubs for great foliage
Berberis thunbergii ‘Orange Rocket’ – 1.2m
Dense shrub with two-toned red-green leaves. Provides a great backdrop to spring and summer bulbs.
Weigela Florida Moulin Rouge- 1.5m (right) Variegated leaves from spring to autumn and trumpet-flowers in mid-summer. Great for pollinators and easy to prune to keep an attractive habit.
Sambucus Black Lace – 2m
Moody, near-black intricate leaves brings a touch of intrigue to the garden, especially when contrasting with clouds of pink flowers in early summer. What’s more- there are elderberries in autumn.
Shrubs for flower power
Hydrangeas -1.2m have varieties called ‘mopheads’ that produce large pom-pom flowerheads in mid to late summer. They brighten up flowerbeds, even in rainy weather, as they love sun but are equally happy when it rains.
For early summer, introduce rhododendrons – 1.8m (above) to your garden in flowerbeds or containers. So long as they are treated to acidic soils, they’ll flower profusely in sun or semi-shade. They’re evergreen too as an added bonus.
In winter, daphnes -1.2m (right) flower when little else does- so choose a daphne not only to cheer up the winter garden but to add captivating scent too- the flowers smell sublime on a clear, crisp, winter day.
For any shrub in your garden, prune once the plant has flowered. The time of year for this will vary from plant to plant, but it’s a good rule of thumb.
Prune the dead, damaged and diseased stems and branches on all shrubs after they’ve flowered using good secateurs and loppers. This keeps shrubs healthy and robust and flowering year after year, with you having to do relatively little – just enjoy the display.
Also any crossing branches that are rubbing on others could do with coming out. Just see which branches tend to be growing in odd directions and make a judgement call as to whether that branch needs to come out.
Watering and feeding
Established shrubs tend to look after themselves and the roots are amazing in finding water and nutrients in the soil. Even so, they may like a helping hand in very hot or dry weather. Water generously in the morning and the evening during hot spells and feed at the beginning of the season with fertiliser or manure.
With this bit of TLC, shrubs will reward you with great flowers and foliage and provide permanence and structure to your garden.