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New shrubbery - Help!

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Question from MundyE


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Help! My husband just dropped into the conversation that he'd "like a shrubbery" in our so far fairly empty ex-building-site of a garden.

And I'm panicking... It's to be 13m long and 1.6m wide, flanking a path alongside the NW facing wall of the house. So fairly shade tolerant plants except for where the shrubbery emerges from the shadow of the house into late summer sunshine.

The reason for my panic is that although there are many shrubs I love (azaleas, weigela, viburnum,deutzia, daphne, photinia, potentilla, abelia....), I just can't get the hang of seeing them all together in 3D plus the added dimension of TIME: what they'll all be doing in any week.

Can anyone help with this? Any tried and trusted recipes? Any online help? Any publications?

The soil is fairly neutral, the site level but exposed to cold nor'westerlies in winter. Oh, and He-who-must-be-obeyed doesn't want anything much above window-level (around 4-5 feet).

Many thanks in advance, Mundy

  • Views: 5552
  • Replies: 2
  • Posted: Sat. 15th November 2008 20:20

Shrub border ideas

Reply from Kathy C

Hi, Mundy
It is quite daunting coming up with a planting plan for a large space -there are so many plants to choose from and so many design aspects to consider. What I have usually do is to first think about what will go in the conditions I have - in your case, shade-tolerant, exposed but with the benefit of a wall that gets some afternoon sun. Then, do you want evergreen, deciduous, or a combinaton of the two? A flower colour scheme or primarily foliage? To make sure there is something blooming each month, I make a grid with 12 columns (one for each month) and then write the plant names I think I want under the months in which they flower. Any spaces tells me I need to find something for those months. Some of my favourites for your are situation:
Garrya elliptica - evergreen with interesting, pendant flowers, big so needs pruning to keep it under 5ft
Skimmia japonica - loads of cultivars out there, compact, evergreen, flowers, berries and won't get too tall.
Crinodendron patagua - a bit tender, but against a wall should do okay - lovely, white, bell-shaped flowers in late summer
Any cultivar of Hydrangea quercifolia - deciduous, large leaves, great autumn colour and beautiful upright flowers that look great even dried in winter!
Prunus laurocersus 'Otto Luyken' - evergreen, large glossy leaves and remains fairly low
Osmanthus - so many to choose from and evergreen!
As far as your favs go, most Photinia, Deutzia, and Viburnum will tolerate partial shade. Daphne laureola and Daphne pontica will tolerate shade, with Daphne x burkwoodii doing okay in the spot that gets sun. Abelia and Potentilla need full sun so I would steer clear of them for this spot.
For more ideas, do an advanced search under the plant search tab on this site, choosing the attributes you want.
Books I have found useful are:
Perfect Plant, Perfect Place by Roy Lancaster
RHS Plants for Places
RHS What Plant When
Hope this is helpful and let me know what you come up with.
Kathy C.

  • Posted: Mon. 17th November 2008 12:50

Shrubbery design

Reply from Susie H.

Dear Mundy,
What a fun job. I envy you. I suggest choosing 10 or so shrubs you like that are suitable for part shade and for your soil. Make a chart of how tall each of them grow, what colour they flower and in what season, and most importantly what is their form and habit (ie shape)--rounded, columnar, mound-forming, low-growing, etc. and then arrange them on the page so the tall ones are in the back, and each plant is in a 'triangle' grouping of tall, medium and short, so you have a mixture of shapes.
Try to mix some big leaves with tiny leaves, 'fluffy' with 'spiky', dark green foliage with light green, etc.
Make sure you use repetition, use 2-3 of the same shrub or use different colours or cultivars of the same shrub.
Many shrubs grow naturally to that height (4-5 ft) but you could always trim them (and they'll flower more too).
Plant some herbaceous in between the shrubs to add interest while you wait for the shrubs to grow. Susie

  • Posted: Fri. 21st November 2008 10:30