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Shrub It Up

Evening all,

Looking to plant up a customer's border. Space for 3 small to medium sized shrubs. Customer wants as much year round colour as possible. The border is surrounded by a small box hedge so need a some height to be visible over the hedging, without being too tall. The border gets a reasonable amount of sun. So I am looking to get 3 distinct shrubs to add colour at different times of the year whilst ideally only requiring minimal maintenance. 

Any suggestions on a good combination? All tips and suggestions welcome.

Have a great weekend everyone.

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  • PRO

    It depends on the site ,space available  customer preference and budget but some favourites of mine include nandinas which are full of colour , cornus midwinter fire for winter colour , viburnums offer a great choice , cotinus ,purple foliage  tends to add interest , magnolia stellata which is in flower now and always looks stunning although the white flowers are short lived , forsythia always catches my eye , Acers can be stunning although will loose their leaves in winter , liquid amber a bit of an indulgence but looks nice in the Autumn 

    I also find that buying smaller shrubs as opposed to the more mature specimens of same variety can often stretch a limited client budget as they soon catch up in a season or two but if the client wants instant gratification then they will have to increase their budget . 

    My best tip would be ensure the customer understands the importance of keeping any shrubs you plant watered after planting .

    • Thanks John. I too was thinking of a cornus and a virbunum. Hadn't considered a cotinus, lovely looking plant that. Thanks for all the suggestions, exactly what I was hoping for. I've been doing this close to a decade now and sometimes you can get into a rut of only thinking of the same things which was why I was opening it up to the forum to maybe get a little inspiration.

  • PRO

    what are the sizes of the space to be planted -- how high is the box hedging kept ? what heights do you want the plants to occupy now and in the future ? 

    Hebes are great alrounders for planting in the right area -- within box borders etc - only trouble being getting reasonable sized to begin with so they actually show over the hedging. Lots of colours available of foliage and flowers -- many have a good mature size of 1-1.5m x 1-1.5 m -- generally keep their dome shape and easily clipped if needed. Pittosporum dwarf types similar in style and growth but can be tricky if its an exposed and very cold site in winter. 

    • Thanks Dan, can never really go wrong with a hebe. The space is maybe 3m by 1.5/2m so not that big at all and the box hedge is maybe only 1ft high. Any suggestions are welcome as it gives me something to think about rather than trying to get all the forum members to have to worry about exact sizing etc. It's easy to forget about all sorts of obvious choices sometimes so just getting loads of suggestions is a great help. Thanks

      • PRO

        Is there a 'style' -- box normally implies formal -- or maybe cottage partierre 

        • The borders are at the front of the house, one on either corner of where the driveway meets the pavement/road. So perhaps more formal than the back garden yes.

          • PRO

            so two borders not one ? 

            • yes, but the other one is much smaller so that one is sorted

              • PRO

                If its formal id probably consider one dominant shrub and then surround it with multiples of another shrub. 

                If you have the size and space maybe consider a small tree/ large shrub like Amelanchier canadensis - it grows smaller than Amelanchier lanarkii -- deciduous with a nice winter skeleton -- lovely spring flowers -- good berries that follow and autumn leaf colour. Its a dappled canopy. approx 3x3 m in twenty years 

                Could use hebes around or use multiples of Hydrangea annabelle or a similar white hydrangea for bright dy conditions.  

                Fill the rest with a wide selection of suitable bulbs or the odd long flowering perenial like one of the many 6 month flowering geraniums. 

                • Thanks for the suggestion Dan, sounds lovely

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