Structure, form and colour all year round
Today I’ll be talking about a subject that’s close to my heart – evergreen shrubs and foliage. I love being able to enjoy greenery and leaves in my garden all year round rather than being confronted by a bare wasteland once my deciduous plants have dropped their foliage. Evergreens are plants that, as their name suggests, keep their green leaves all year round so they’re perfect for providing structure, shape and colour to a garden whatever the season.
Yes, a winter garden can be a bleak place, but with the planting of some choice shrubs you can keep your plot looking attractive all year round. Evergreen plants come in a wide variety of sizes, colours and textures, so there are sure to be plenty to suit any sized garden – and the rewards of planting a few shrubs can be great.
Note, it’s best not to plant evergreen shrubs in winter as it’s difficult to tell how dry the roots are – you could end up with thirsty or even waterlogged plants. If you’ve missed the boat for this year, don’t worry – here are some evergreen shrub ideas for planting up your garden come spring, so you can enjoy the benefits of a more structured garden this summer and throughout the following years.
- Photinia ‘Red Robin’: This type of photinia is well-known for its striking variegated red and green foliage that really adds a traditional festive accent in the winter months. The older leaves will turn a deep, glossy green, but younger leaves shoot through a bold red, so this shrub is best when maintained with regular pruning. It’s excellent for hedging as will easily grow to six metres in height, and provides an attractive foil for colourful summer flowering plants.
- Camellia: Colourful Camellia grow into large, sprawling bushes if left to their own devices, but they also tolerate hard pruning too if you’re short on space and they’re remarkably sturdy. They’re a really attractive plant year-round, with deep green, shiny leaves and large, blowsy blooms (though they only usually flower for a few short weeks in late spring). A great option for an ornamental bush to fill a dark corner, or provide a backdrop to smaller, more delicate perennial plants.
- Bamboos: Bamboo plants are an elegant addition to any size plot, and there are different varieties available that grow to different heights. Bamboos just need a sheltered space to thrive in, and their delicate frond-like leaves and long stems provide texture and movement with very little maintenance required.
- Mahonia: Much like spiny holly, Mahonia plants have dark, spiky leaves – but instead of red berries you’ll get structural, bright yellow flowes clustered on long racemes that give a really striking and elegant effect. Their heights vary depending on type, so can add some great interest in a garden and they cope well with coastal conditions, clay soils and deep shade, so they’re a great low-maintenance addition to your garden. Additionally, they’re great for providing much-needed pollen and nectar for bees at a time of year when there isn’t much on offer!
- Daphne odora ‘Mae-jima’: This type of Daphne is a popular shrub due to its pretty, delicate clusters of pink flowers and striking yellow-edged glossy leaves. This relatively compact shrub will reach two or three feet in height and width without requiring much maintenance, and the flowers have a really enchanting smell that’s sure to brighten up your winter garden. As a bonus, it’s perfectly happy in shady spots, so I think this plant is totally underrated!
Of course, there is a huge range of evergreen shrubs and plants to suit all plot sizes, so it’s just a matter of working out what would work best in your garden. These are just a couple of ideas to get you started, and I’ve chosen shrubs that are low-maintenance and suited to most budgets.
Happy gardening! Katie x