Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Garden Planting Design - Shrubs for Texture & Colour

A good planting scheme should include a mixture of plants with different leaf textures, shapes and colours blended together to produce a harmonius picture that leads the eye round the garden and helps set the house into its plot. 

When planting for clients I do not necessarily choose unusual plants, in fact I usually work with quite common plants.  It is the way in which the plants are combined that allows the planting scheme to look out of the ordinary whilst including some very ordinary plans. 

Here are some shrubs that combine well for a good overall effect:-

Choisya ternata ‘Sundance’ – a very common shrub, easy to grow, but can be a little slow to establish. It should be kept well pruned otherwise it becomes very leggy and too open.  It will also flower better if given a good haircut in the autumn.

Sambucus nigra ‘Black Lace’ – a wonderful, shade tolerant, deciduous shrub with a beautiful dark purple leaf and pink flowerheads in summer.  Its feathery form and dark leaves contrasts well against the tighter, rounder shape and gold foliage of the Choisya.  It needs to be cut back very hard in the winter otherwise it will get too big and unshapely. 


Fatsia japonica – a fabulous, shade tolerant shrub with huge glossy dark green leaves.  It does flower, but is grown mainly for its architectural leaves.  Its open, upright outline shape works well with the Choisya and the Sambucus.  Occasionally cut some stems right down otherwise it can become very tall with all the leaves at the top.

Cistus pulvurlentus ‘Sunset’ – a prolific summer flowering shrub with a relatively tight shape, This will provide not only textural contrast with its soft, silver leaves, but a welcome splash of summer colour with its bright pink flowers.  It is also lower growing than the other shrubs and can be placed further forward in the border.  Prune with care, as they do not like hard pruning and once they become overgrown it can be hard to get them back into shape without killing them. It prefers a sunny spot.  

 Viburnum bodnantense ‘Charles Lamont’ – add some winter interest with this highly scented winter scented shrub.  It has an upright form which is a good contrast to the other plants and its pink flowers held on bare branches bring a welcome blast of scent in the depths of winter.  It can be pruned quite hard after flowering to maintain it’s shape.

Caryopteris ‘Heavenly Blue’ – extremely easy to grow, a deciduous shrub with tons of blue flowers in late summer.  Small, matt, mid green leaves held on long slightly arching branches are a good contrast to the rest of the planting and bright blue flowers provide some excellent late season colour.  It is a smaller shrub and can be planted further forward in the border.  It can be pruned fairly hard if needed after flowering to maintain size and shape, but leave it in a natural, looser outline for best effect. It prefers a sunny spot, but will take a small amount of shade.  

This is just a suggested selection of plants that I love to use together and I know will grow well.  I will write about perennial combinations in another post.

If you would like help designing or planting your garden, please visit my Web site for contact details.  You can also visit my Facebook page and Pinterest boards to see some more examples of my work.

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