Evergreen Shrubs

ABELIA

Graceful, generous and decorative flowering shrubs, these can hold their white to pink flowers from June to October. Some varieties are semi-evergreen, others deciduous, and a severe winter can kill a plant, so wherever possible site abelia in the protection of a wall or among other shrubs so that it gains in warmth and shelter but still gets the benefit of full sun. The best of the semi-evergreen varieties include ‘Edward Goucher’ with a multitude of lilac-pink flowers; A. floribunda, producing abundant vivid red tubular flowers in June; and A. grandiflora, bearing pink and white blooms from June to September. The soil for abclias should be moist but well drained and the site in full sun.

BERBERIS

Of the many barberries available, all are spiny and so make good hedging material. They nearly all have yellow flowers; some are so small as to be beautiful in the rock garden while others make huge bushes; some are deciduous and some evergreen. B. danuinii, evergreen and early flowering, is one of the best of all flowering shrubs, with dark glossy green leaves and long bunches of yellow flowers, crimson tinted, in April and May followed by the round, purple berries in autumn. There are a dozen or so varieties of a favourite, B. stenophylla, evergreen and graceful, with long arching stems covered in yellow flowers in April. B. insignis is particularly valuable with its long, smooth, yellow stems carrying clusters of leaves, green above and yellow beneath.

GALLUNA

This is a genus with only a single species, a lime-hater that can only be grown successfully in an acid soil, often grouped collectively with erica, from which it differs by its four-parted corolla and calyx. But although only one species exists, there are several score of varieties, with both flowers and foliage of various colours all blooming in late summer, yet as evergreens providing interest the year through. One of the best of these heathers is ‘Robert Chapman’ because its foliage begins in spring as gold, changes to orange and finally to red, while the purple flowers appear in late summer. ‘H.E. Beale’, perhaps the best known of the callunas, produces its long racemes of soft pink double flowers rather later, between September and November. ‘Joy Vanstone’ has orchid-pink flowers and a lovely gold foliage which deepens to orange in winter. The famed Scottish heather, so visible over the moors, is C. vulgaris and there is a double version, C.v. ‘Alba plena’.

CAMELLIA

This is one of the best of all evergreen shrubs. With crisp, shining green foliage and magnificent flowers between March and May. Camellias have the reputation of being difficult and tender, yet if grown in an acid soil and given some protection from cold winds and frosts, plants will do well and amply repay what little attention they demand. They grow well in tubs and other containers. There are hundreds of varieties, most of them from C. japonica, and it is usual to make a choice by the colours and sizes of the blooms. Some varieties are definitely only for mild districts, but many others will grow in most areas and climates with only a little sensible protection. Some of the best camellias to grow are the Williamsii, exceptionally free flowering over a period from November to May. Naturally enough, ‘J.C. Williams’ is a first choice, a medium single with phlox-pink flowers. ‘Donation’, orchid pink, large and semi-double, is also popular. Another is ‘Citation’, a silvery blush pink, large, semi-double and there is a splendid single white named ‘Francis Hanger’. The earliest of the group to flower, in November, is the medium single. Phlox-pink ‘November Pink’.

COTONEASTER

This invaluable shrub is another member of the rose family and can be grown almost anywhere, on any soil, in sun or shade. Cotoneasters can be deciduous or evergreen, can have tiny leaves or large. Practically without exception the white flowers so loved by bees open about June and are followed later in the year by profuse numbers of orange, red or yellow berries. There are no thorns on any varieties. Cotoneasters can roughly be divided into three types: those that are prostrate and cover the ground, those that are of medium growth some 30cm (12in) to lm (3ft) tall and those that are even taller, making small trees. Of the prostrate type, C. dammeri, C. hybridus pendulus and C. salicifolius penclulus all have red berries, while C. ‘Skogholm Coral Beauty’, as the name suggests, has berries of a vivid orange. All are evergreen. Best of the tall cotoneasters is C. lacteus.

ELAEAGNUS

A useful shrub, this is grown generally for its foliage rather than its abundance of small, scented silvery-white flowers. The shrub grows quickly and is highly wind resistant, so it is natural that it is much used for hedging, where it even withstands the strong, salt-laden winds near the sea. One of the best evergreen species is E. ebbingei, which has large leaves, silver underneath, and white flowers in the autumn followed by orange fruits in spring. Particularly striking is E. pungens ‘Maculata’.

ERICA

The ericas, like the callunas. Lings and daboecias, appear to be grouped together under the common name of heather or heath and as long as the correct botanical label can be pinned onto the correct plants there seems to be no reason why this should not be so. The ericas, with the exception of a few species mentioned below, are all lime-haters, all comparatively easy to grow, all like sun rather than shade, all spread and develop well. They range from dwarf, prostrate plants to the tree heaths that can grow to 5m (16ft) and the range of colours, both in flower and in foliage, is now so wide that it is possible to have plants in decorative condition for nearly 12 months in the year. The tree heath is E. arborea and there is a hardier, more upright form, E.a. ‘Alpina’. The major species of ericas that will grow in an alkaline soil are E. carnea. E. darleyensis and E. mediterranea. All have a considerable number of varieties.

ESCALLONIA

Any tree or shrub that can be used with advantage as a hedge should do well in most gardens as a specimen. This is certainly true of escallonia, a flowering evergreen that produces its blooms in summer and early autumn, sometimes a dull period in the garden. Bushes are usually 1-3m (3-10ft) in height, normally lime tolerant, capable of standing up to seaside winds and only one or two of the less well-known varieties will suffer from frosts. Many of the escallonias were bred by a famous Irish nursery and are now known by its name: Donard Beauty, Donard Brilliance. Donard Gem, Glory of Donard, Pride of Donard and several others, but there are, of course, many other species and varieties suited to our gardens as specimen plants, as hedging materials and as wall plants. Bees love the flowers and although some shrubs may grow large, they can be clipped back after flowering, or if necessary cut right back to old wood.

GARRYA

This is an interesting and delightful shrub or small tree which appears to be restricted to one species and even then is grown in far too few gardens. It is difficult to grow, although it is best with a little protection such as might be given by a wall. It is a flowering evergreen, the male and female flowers being borne on separate plants. Garrya is best known for the slender, silky catkins which hang, some 15cm (6in) long, in such profusion that the tree sometimes looks almost like a waterfall. It grows quickly in sun or shade. The only species normally obtainable from most nurseries is the well-known G. elliptica and the male form is always sold as opposed to the female which has blackish-brown fruits instead. A variety which might be found in a specialist nursery or might be ordered is G.e. ‘James Roof.

HEBE

These splendid Flowering evergreens were once listed under the veronicas. All but one or two originated from New Zealand and have settled down well except that some may not be hardy in colder areas or bleak situations, although they thrive in coastal plantings. They grow well in all soils as long as the drainage is efficient. Flowers are white or various shades of blue. h. anomala. Growing to about 1m (3ft). with small yellowish-green leaves and white flowers in spikes at the end of summer, is said to be very hardy, as is ‘Marjorie’, which is a little smaller with white and violet flowers. H. elliptica Variegata’ makes a low shrub with small pale green leaves edged with cream. The violet flowers appear in early summer. This plant should only be grown in milder areas or with added protection.

HELIANTHEMUM

The common names sun rose and rock rose indicate that this is a shrub that will glory in a hot sun and a dry site. Nearly all of the available forms have been bred from H. nummularium, the common sun rose, and they make wonderful ground-cover plants for sunny sites with poor soil. As a rule the many flowers produced last only a day, but there are so many of themand they are so vivid and spectacular that these plants can bring new beauty to a bare bank, an inaccessible patch or even portions of a rock garden. Look for the ‘Ben’ varieties. H. nummularium ‘Ben Dearg’, ‘Ben Fhada’, ‘Ben Hope’, ‘Ben Ledi’, ‘Ben More’ and ‘Ben Nevis’, all with yellow to deep orange flowers. Creamy-white flowers with a yellow centre are presented by H.n. ‘The Bride’ and rose-crimson with orange centre by ‘Watergate Rose ‘. It really is essential to remember with helianthemums that they must have full sun and a poor soil.

KALMIA

Reminiscent of the rhododendron in appearance and in requirements, it is no surprise to find that kalmia is also a member of the Ericaceae. They need an acid soil, preferably moist, and full sun. The leaves are medium to large, oval and a deep, glossy green. It is the flowers that make kalmia distinctive, for they begin as closed buds almost like bladders and then open to become saucer-shaped, usually rose coloured, less frequently red to purple. The species seen to the exclusion of almost any other is K. latifolia ‘Calico Bush’, with rosy pink flowers in large clusters opening in June. There is a variety. K. l. ‘Clementine Churchill’ which is said to be the best of the red-flowered kalmias. K. angustifolia. A little smaller. Also produces rosy red flowers in June and has the habit of spreading slowly in the garden soil to produce a thicket. It has the common name sheep’s laurel. Kalmias must never be allowed to become dry at the roots, so apply mulches of moist peat in spring, particularly in spring droughts.

MAHONIA

Although closely related to the berberis. It is easy to see from the lack of spines and from the compound leaves that this genus is different. Mahonia is nevertheless a useful plant to have in the garden, easy and undemanding, with glossy green leaves and yellow flowers in winter or spring. Known as ‘Oregon Grape’, M. aquifolium grows to a small shrub with leaves that frequently turn scarlet in winter and clustered yellow flowers in early spring followed by blue-black berries. ‘Charity’ grows rather larger and its deep yellow flowers are to be seen on long racemes almost like spikes in autumn and winter. Another species, M. japonica, is one of the most popular plants in our gardens as well as one of the most ornamental, for it has deep green pinnate or divided leaves and long, pendulous, loose racemes of scented lemon-yellow flowers which stay on the plant from late autumn to early spring.

OLEARIA

There is something about the daisy bush or tree daisy that proclaims its Australasian origins. The best-known species, O. haastii, is very popular. This will grow up to 2m (6ft) tall if it is getting enough sun and can probably be treated as hardy in most parts of northern Europe. It flowers in late summer and when in flower it is sometimes difficult to see the leaves for the blooms. Some of the other species can suffer from sharp frosts when grown inland, although all make remarkably tough barriers against strong winds, excelling near the sea where other plants would suffer burning from the salt-laden winds. The New Zealand holly, M. Macrodonta, makes a taller tree or shrub, up to 3m (10ft), with long. Holly-like leaves silvered beneath and wide panicles of fragrant flowers in June. There are ‘Major’ and ‘Minor’ forms. It is worth going quickly over the plant with shears when flowering has finished, a form of dead heading that will ensure the maximum quantity of flowers in the next season.

OSMANTHUS

This is a small genus of evergreen shrubs or small trees, with glossy green foliage and beautifully scented little white flowers in spring or autumn. The most popular species is O. delavayi, small leaved, growing to about 2m (6ft). with a profusion of small, white, perfumed flowers in April. Another species is O. burkwoodii, sometimes Osmarea burkwoodii which is the more correct name as it is a rare bi-generic hybrid between Osmanthus delavayi and Phillyrea decora, raised by the well-known nurserymen Burkwood and Skipwith some 50 years ago. It is hardy, grows to more than 2m (6ft) and produces long, glossy green leaves and fragrant white flowers in April or May. O. heterophylla is a species with ten or more useful varieties, mainly slow growing, some bearing shining leaves, often spined like those of a common holly.

PERNETTYA

This lovely shrub was named alter Antoine Joseph Pernetty. Who accompanied Bougainville on his trip to the Falkland Islands in the late eighteenth century. These mainly hardy little shrubs form dense thickets, some dwarf and others taller, producing masses of tiny white flowers to be followed by an abundance of white, pink, red or purple berries. Some marbled, all magnificently decorative and largely remaining on the branches through the winter. They grow best in full sun, need a lime-free soil and must be in groups of at least one male to three females to ensure cross-pollination. P. mucronata is the best-known species, probably because it is one of the hardiest. It grows to about 50cm (19in) and eventually makes a wonderful ground cover, producing in the meanwhile a froth of white, heath-like flowers in May and June followed by dense clusters of berries coloured from white to purple. There are a number of varieties of this species, some of them with names evocative of the size or colour of the berries produced: Cherry Ripe, Pink Pearl and White Pearl.

PIERIS

The pieris, sometimes called andromeda, will grow successfully only where there is no lime and if you garden on limestone the only way to get any success with this wonderful shrub for more than a few months is to grow it on an acid peat hill, which is expensive, or to give it regular doses of chelated iron, usually known as sequestrene. Although the flower buds are noticeable and attractive throughout the winter, opening as blooms in April and May, white and chalice-shaped, it is the young foliage, red, bronze, white and pink, that is the real glory of the shrub. This young growth is somewhat tender, so protect it with light shade from above and from north and east winds. It is difficult to choose a species for recommendation as there are many that are beautiful. P. ‘Forest Flame’ is fairly hardy and the young foliage appears first as a vivid red, going through pink and then creamy-white before becoming green. The white flowers are in long, drooping pannicles. Another fairly hardy form is P. japonica ‘Variegata’, medium sized, slow growing, with creamy-white young leaves flushed with pale pink.

PYRACANTHA

The firethorn tells all in the name, for the masses of red, orange or yellow berries can certainly give the impression of fire and the stems are thorny or spined, a fact which differentiates it from the rather similar cotoneaster. Bushes are often grown against a wall or fence, where they certainly show to advantage, but they can be grown as single specimens. Their main impact is through the berries in autumn and winter rather than the summer flowers which are of lesser significance. Plants grow easily, are completely hardy, adapt to any soil and are tolerant of polluted air. The best known and most frequently grown variety is P. coccinea ‘Lalandei’, strong and upright, covered in orange fruits in autumn.

SANTOLINA

The cotton lavender, santolina, makes a low mound of silvery-grey foliage which in July raises tall stems topped with pretty yellow button flowers. It likes full sun and a well-drained soil. A dwarf species that has proved popular over the years is S. chamaecyparissus, which grows to about 50cm (19in) tall and has finely divided leaves which appear to be covered with a soft, silver wool, highly aromatic when crushed in the fingers. An even smaller, more compact variety is S.c. Corsica, sometimes known as ‘Nana’, suitable for the rock garden but apt to be lost, perhaps, if grown with full-sized shrubs or herbaceous material.

SENECIO

This is one of the comparatively few shrubby members of the enormous family Compositae, the daisy family. But it is probably true to say that it is grown more for its silver grey, soft and silky foliage than for the daisy flowers, usually yellow, which appear in June. S. greyi and S. laxifolius are the most frequently seen species and few gardeners other than botanical experts would be able to say with certainty which was which. Both are evergreen, growing to about lm (3ft) with silvery, downy leaves when young, turning greener and tougher when more mature. Flowers are yellow. These two species are said to be hardy, but most others are not and it might be wise to give a little protection to plants when frosts threaten. Several of the species are recommended only for the mildest parts of this country, although curiously enough almost all senecios are said to withstand sea breezes and one, S. reinoldii, is claimed to be one of the best shrubs for windswept gardens by the sea; it will take the full blast of the Atlantic Ocean.

SKIMMIA

A small genus of little, compact shrubs, domed, neat, tolerant of shade and excellent for both industrial and coastal areas. Both male and female plants are necessary if you wish to enjoy the handsome, glistening, scarlet fruits throughout the whole of the winter months. S. japonica is the best species, growing well in both chalky and acid soils and its variety, S.j. ‘Foremanii’ is a strongly growing female clone which carries large bunches of the brilliant red berries. S.j. ‘Fragrans’ is the male, with dense panicles of white flowers which have a pleasant perfume rather like lilies-of-the-valley. There is a hermaphrodite form, S. reevesiana, which makes a dwarf shrub less than lm (3ft) tall and with leaves which sometimes have a pale, silvery margin. The white flowers appear in May, followed by dull crimson fruits which last through the winter and are often still on the branches when the flowers begin to appear again in the following May. This species demands an acid soil.

21. June 2013 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Fruit Trees | Comments Off on Evergreen Shrubs

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