Shrubs are an important aspect of any garden - large or small. They give maturity, screening, interest and grace, as well as being home to many creatures that live in their macro environment.
The common call for shrubs, is for 'flowering shrubs, but of course there are many different garden shrubs with characteristics that make them as 'useful' or desirable as the flowering shrubs. Have a look at our 10 best things about shrubs page.
Most shrubs are flowering shrubs, but some have flowers that are so insignificant, that other characteristics make them popular. For instance, the Dogwood types of Cornus, have flowers flowers for a short period of time.
But they are not grown for their flowers, but generally for the autumn and winter stem colour and or their autumn leaf colour. The coloured 'bark' may well be the ancestry of the common name of DOGwoods.
Talking about Winter Brrrr - The Winter Flowering Heathers are a good choice for year round colour
Then again, there are other Cornus varieties that are grown specifically for their flowers, but have no winter stem or bark colour worth talking about. Herein lies a problem with shrubs - that of nomenclature - in particular their common names. All of the Cornus varieties are known under the common name of 'dogwoods'.
On the left, we see the Cornus kousa, which is grown for its masses of flowers in early summer, but has no winter stem colour. The image on the right is of Cornus alba Sibirica. This is grown for its stem colour which lasts from leaf fall right through until the following spring. Both types have stunning autumn foliage colour, but this will last for just a few days - or maybe a week if the weather is mild!
Don't let the examples above put you off growing shrubs in your garden. Shrubs are generally easy to grow and care for - as we will show you in this section of the site. Whatever spot in your garden - be it a small isolated space, or a whole difficult dry bank - there will be shrubs to suit. many will have long periods of interest - either by flower or their foliage. Others may just flower for a short time - but with flowers or scent so exquisite that they just have to be grown!
The two broad classes of garden shrubs are Evergreens and Deciduous. Within both these categories, we have flowering, foliage, low, tall, slow growing, quick growing, shade loving shrubs, sun loving shrubs. In fact, shrubs for the garden - the list is almost endless. But, if you want a low growing flowering shrub with evergreen foliage and flowers in the winter, there will most certainly be one. There will also be a tall growing summer flowering shrub that has deciduous but colourful foliage. This then, is the versatility of shrubs. Whatever your situation, the will be a shrub to suit! A bold statement which we will try to prove in this section about garden shrubs.
However difficult your garden situation is, then there will almost certainly be a shrub that will grow in it. Maybe several! Shady damp spots can be catered for with shrubs that are happy in shade and damp conditions, and of course there are many shrubs that will thrive in exactly the opposite conditions - shrubs dry sunny areas.
No wall or fence in the garden need to be bare, for there will be climbing shrubs for any such position, together with screening shrubs, groundcover shrubs, hedging shrubs and shrubs that provide edible fruit. If that does not enthuse you, then throw in the fact that they are normally easy to grow, and will often last for many, many years.
All of the great landscape gardeners used shrubs in their garden schemes, and of course some of the lesser garden designers also include shrubs in their planting schemes. The single most important aspect of successful shrub planting, is to plant the right shrub in the right place. Many a garden scheme has been ruined by the inclusion of particular shrubs that have been planted in the wrong place! Don't let it happen to you or your garden.
I have seen many gardens that fail to reach their natural maturity because shrubs have to be ripped out after years of pruning have not remedied the fact that a shrub has been planted in the wrong place - usually without adequate thought or knowledge as to the ultimate size of the shrub once it reaches maturity. Or worse still, having that knowledge - and ignoring it. Believe me it happens. A lot!
By David Hughes - firstname.lastname@example.org