Growing Shrubs and Trees

Shrubs and trees are the long-term residents of the garden. Usually planted as small, young specimens (although some can be grown from seed), they are placed in the positions they will continue to occupy for at least ten years, sometimes many more. Shrubs and trees can be grown for their flowers (rhododendrons, flowering cherries) or their foliage (maples), but the emphasis can also be on berries or other fruits (cotoneaster) or even on the bark colour (birch). Shrubs and trees lose their leaves each winter, in which case they are known as deciduous, or remain clothed all the year (evergreen), though in the latter case it would be more true to say that instead of the dramatic total loss of all leaves in the colder months, evergreens lose and renew their leaves slowly and regularly throughout the entire year.

One group of evergreen trees and shrubs which stands on its own is known as conifers because they are cone bearing. Although called evergreen, conifers can be green, grey, silver, gold or a glaucous blue-green. The flowers they bear are not apparent except to the experienced, but conifers can play a highly useful role in the garden because of their versatility.

Conifers can be ground-hugging, which means that they can be used as weed suppressors or to cover and conceal such ugly necessities as manhole covers. They can grow as a ball, as a dignified and perfectly shaped cone, or leap upwards as with the aptly named Juniperus Virginiana Skyrocket.

There is the widest possible choice among the trees and shrubs suitable for the garden and by careful and intelligent selection it is possible to use them, not only to give stability and permanence to the garden scene, but to pinpoint, emphasize or display the special, colourful virtues of the herbaceous material. They are undemanding in their care, and once they have been carefully and correctly planted they will seldom require major attention over a period of years.

Shrubs and bushes grow only on a short stem or branch directly from the soil surface. Trees can be bought or grown as standards, with a clean upright stem at least 1.5m (5ft) long; as half standards with a stem of about 1.2m (4ft): or as bushes. They can be broad headed like an oak. Pyramidal like many conifers, fastigiate or columnar, or weeping.

Many trees and shrubs have been given familiar names such as lilac and maple, but endearing though these names may be it is always best if possible to learn and use correct botanical nomenclature. There are many lilacs, for example, but only one Syringa vulgaris ‘Maud Notcutt’, many maples, only one Acer platanoides.

14. June 2013 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Fruit Trees | Comments Off on Growing Shrubs and Trees

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