A spotlight on the benefits of shrubs

For a new gardener with a blank canvas, shrubs are an important basis on which to build the structure of a garden. A shrub is defined as “a woody plant which is smaller than a tree and has several main stems arising from at our near the ground”. They are ideal for all sizes of gardens, and many will provide year-round colour from evergreen foliage. Although some of the best seasonal flowers come from herbaceous plants, shrubs are, above all, easy to maintain once established. They are undemanding in the hottest of summers and most will withstand the coldest of winters.

They can be planted now for roots to get established before the soil dries in July. Some will need specific soil conditions such as acidic (ericaceous) for Camellia, Azalea and Rhododendrons. However, most are unfussy and will only need an annual mulch and feed once established. Always prepare the planting area by removing any perennial weeds and fork in some mulch or planting compost; soak the shrub and hole before planting.

So here are a few suggestions for April colour:

  • Acers. Good for pots or in the ground, their fresh new foliage is only surpassed by the change to fiery leaf colour in the autumn.
  • Chaenomeles Japonica (flowering Quince). Masses of flowers adorne the spikey stems in spring, followed by yellow fruits. Flower colours vary from wihite to deep pink depending on variety.
  • Camellia. The anticipation of the buds forming since December is over and the huge flower heads now weigh down the branches. Let’s hope no late frosts spoil them: This also applies to …
  • Magnolia. Again please no sharp cold nights to disfigure the short burst of colour these tulip or star-shaped pink and white flowers display in early spring.

David Hogg

Buckland Nurseries

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