How To Choose The Right Shrubs for Your Garden
In the gardening scheme of things shrubs come between trees and perennials. They usually have several woody stems, can be deciduous or evergreen and range in size from low ground-cover plants to large bushes. The dividing line between large shrubs and small trees is vague. Lilac is a typical example that can appear within either classification. Most climbers, roses, soft fruit bushes and even many herbs also fall within the shrub category.
You can create entire beds with shrubs, mix them with perennials, annuals and bulbs or use them singly as specimen plants. The main uses for shrubs are as follows:
- Permanent color to act as a backdrop or hide an eyesore. Evergreens are usually best as they will provide a constant layer. You can always get seasonal interest with climbers or shorter plants in front.
- Specimen plants that will look spectacular at a particular time. Balance these shrubs so they work in succession; there is no point if everything looks its best at the same time.
- Plants to fill a large awkward area such as a very dark corner.
- Plants that will act as protection for smaller or more delicate specimens.
Shrubs usually take two to three years to become established and many need little or no maintenance. Pruning is normally the only task and this is not nearly as complicated as it might seem.. As with trees, always check the final size of any shrub.
Buddleja – many buddleja are fragrant, especially B. auriculata which is an evergreen bush with small creamy-white, pink- or orange-centred flowers in autumn.
Daphne – D. bholua and D. x burkwoodii cultivars have particularly fragrant flowers in late winter and late spring respectively.
Hamamelis (Witch hazel) – deciduous bush with fragrant, spidery-like flowers in autumn and winter. The flowers may be yellow, orange or dark red.
Philadelphus (Mock orange) – deciduous bush with white flowers in summer. The cup-shaped flowers can be single or double and may be tinged with pink.
Rosa (Rose) – many roses have highly fragrant flowers, especially the old varieties and most English roses.
Sarcococca (Christmas box) – evergreen bush with small, fragrant, white flowers in winter.
Syringa (Lilac) – deciduous bush or tree with conical flowers in ‘ate spring. The flowers may be white, pink, purple or crimson.
Viburnum – deciduous or evergreen bush. Most have clusters of tiny pink or white flowers in winter or early spring, V. x “odnantense and V. x burkwoodii are especially fragrant.