Specimen Shrubs for Display

Shrubs for Display

Shrubs are only one of several landscaping elements, which are of two kinds: living and inanimate. The first include tall greenery — mostly trees, to a lesser degree tall shrubs; medium high greenery — mostly shrubs, also small trees, and shorter-growing greenery — herbaceous plants and turf, in addition, of course, to animal life. Inanimate objects are such things as paths, walls, architectural ornaments (urns, flower bowls, statuary), pools and fountains, streams and last, but not least, natural rocks and stone.

In the landscaping schemes of gardens shrubs may be planted as solitary subjects, in groups, in rows and in large masses.


Solitary Specimens

magnolia shrubs for display A shrub planted by itself usually becomes the focus of attention. Such dominant features are the most striking elements in the garden and always attract the eye of the beholder. The principal feature is usually the house or cottage to which the garden belongs, and other striking features may be tall trees, particularly conifers, pools, fountains, statuary, ornamental containers and urns, and even solitary shrubs.

As a specimen, a shrub must have some feature or features of particular interest: an unusual time of flowering, for instance — winter (hamamelis) or early spring (Spiraea arguta, Spiraea vanhouttei), profuse and beautiful flowers (rhododendron, deutzia, forsythia, magnolia), unusual flowers (fothergilla), coloured foliage in the autumn (hamamelis, rhus), striking fruit (pyracantha, cotoneaster, exochorda), or unusual habit of growth (hippophae). A specimen shrub is best planted in a stretch of open turf, either isolated or suitably framed with nothing in its immediate vicinity to distract attention. Subdominant features serve to give an intimate, indoor-type atmosphere to parts of the garden.


Group Planting

Small groups of shrubs may also fulfil the same purpose, for instance, several peonies in grass, a combination of two or three varieties of azaleas or of variously coloured rhododendrons, or a group of several species of chaenomeles or philadelphus. The selection of shrubs for such groups may also include species that differ in their habit of growth (horizontal, upright or varied structure), colour of the flowers or autumn foliage, or flowering period.

Combinations with other plants (annuals, perennials or trees) are also very effective. Common groupings are ones where shrubs with attractive flowers (chaenomeles) are planted in front of evergreens (taxus, rhododendron, laurocerasus). A juniper of upright habit or a low-growing cypress looks well planted in a carpet-like mass of heathers (ericas or callunas). Also attractive in gardens are groups of certain early-flowering shrubs (Spiraea arguta, forsythia and hamamelis), though in large areas such as parks, shrubs planted in groups tend to acquire the character of mass groupings.


Row Planting

Typical examples of this type of planting are avenues and hedges. Avenues are broad passageways bordered, as a rule, only by trees, very occasionally also by shrubs, whereas hedges are generally composed of shrubs and less frequently of clipped trees. Clipped hedges were once popular and very much in vogue but this is no longer true, though they are still used to good purpose in certain landscaping schemes. The best shrubs most suitable for clipped hedges, are members of the genus Crataegus and certain members of the genus Caragana. All other ornamental shrubs mentioned within the Ornamental Shrub section, are either unsuitable for clipping or are weakened by regular trimming and become dry and sickly.

Row plantings are used wherever it is desired to emphasize the principal lines or boundaries of a garden. For this purpose they must be composed of only a single species or variety. If one wishes to plant a combination of several species or varieties then they must not differ in habit of growth and structure, or if so then very little. Excellent for row plantings are berberis, caragana, cotoneaster (Cotoneaster multiflora), crataegus, deutzia, ilex, kerria, kolkwitzia, lonicera, philadelphus, rhododendron, spiraea, syringa and weigelia.


Mass Plantings

Mass plantings are used to best effect in large gardens and parks, forming thick borders round groups of trees or alongside pathways. Nevertheless, even in a small garden certain types of woody plants can be attractive when planted in masses. Heading the list are the roses (floribunda and hybrid tea roses), which are often planted in beds edged with border stones or low walls. The important thing is that only a single variety should be planted throughout the whole bed, for it is precisely this uniformity of structure and colour of the blooms that creates such a striking effect.

Good carpeting plants with this type of mass planting are the heathers, both ericas and callunas. Here it is possible to combine species and varieties of different colours and different periods of flowering. Also good for mass plantings are certain prostrate (ground-hugging) plants such as Cotoneaster horizontalis.

These are by no means all the possible ways of planting ornamental shrubs. It is important when planning the layout of a garden to beware of overcrowding. This applies in particular to the modern garden, which should make the greatest possible use of turf and architectural elements, maintaining a balanced harmony between living and inanimate features. As in all fields of art, in landscape architecture it is of vital importance to observe the principles of proportion.


03. May 2011 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Ornamental Shrubs, Plants & Trees | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on Specimen Shrubs for Display


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