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Tell me your best shrubs ever

(77 Posts)
MrsBertBibby Sun 17-Feb-19 22:17:47

So our back neighbours have made our dreams come true and our hideous back fence and related lonicera hedge, brambles, nettles and crap are gone. Once they have sorted the retaining wall and fence, we aim to plant lovely flowering shrubs in front of the fence, for colour, bee forage, and year round gorgeousness. And limited trimming /pruning.

So, what are your best shrubs? High as you like, one end profound shade, one end loads of sun, chalky soil, but not too chalky.

WellTidy Mon 18-Feb-19 11:06:26

Flowering shrubs that do well in my garden are camellia, peony, weigela, philadelphus, hydrangea, lilac, dwarf buddleia and flowering cherries.

Some of the camellias flower in Winter, others in Spring at different times. Similarly different peonies will flower at different times during Spring. At that time you can have your flowering cherries. And weigela and lilac. And then hydrangea and buddleia. Hydrangea limelight will keep going until October.

Wildwood6 Mon 18-Feb-19 13:53:09

I don’t have one (yet!) but I’ve had my eye on an Amelanchier lamarckii for forever. Gorgeous, ever changing, and with a really long season of interest.

weegiemum Mon 18-Feb-19 13:58:23

Lavender. Best for bee forage that I've come across and though it's not technically a shrub it grows quite high and gets woody at the bottom.

Clematis over a frame? Mine grows over the stump of a conifer that we cut out the day after moving in! I planted 2 with complementary flowers and it brings me great joy every spring.

Peony - we have a fantastic bi-coloured peony that I've split off several times for family and friends. I don't know the variety as it was here when we moved.

I'm also partial to a nice Azalea - mine is orange!

GrouchyKiwi Mon 18-Feb-19 13:59:03

I love amelanchiers, hebes of all kinds (they're often good in exposed sites, which is helpful for me) and buddleia. We're getting a weeping pear tree soon, which I'm very excited about. It's basically a tall shrub.

Beebumble2 Mon 18-Feb-19 17:57:16

Have a look at some winter flowering scented shrubs such as Witch Hazel, Daphnia and winter sweet. Also winter Jasmine would clothe a wall or fence.

BumboBaggins Mon 18-Feb-19 18:30:23

Hydrangea(s) for shady area. Also my anemone honorine jobert has def been one of my most successful plantings for shade. Mine gets no sun at all (north facing tall fence) and did wonderfully in its first year.

Astilbe for shade too.

Lavender for sun - just goes on and on. And verbena oh my word. Ours lasted until November I think! Incredible. Also first year. Grew to over a metre I’d say in an incredibly short space of time.

For practically year round greenery, a prunus of some sort. (I’ve got them in both sun and shade).

WellTidy Mon 18-Feb-19 19:05:19

I have found that astilbes don’t like the dry shade in my garden. I think they would do better in damper shade, but I struggle to keep them wet enough, even with daily watering.

Making a note of the anenome for the dry shade in my garden, thanks smile

OrdinaryGirl Mon 18-Feb-19 19:08:11

Abelia x grandiflora is beautiful, resilient, flowers for ages and the bees love it. 🌸🐝

WellTidy Mon 18-Feb-19 19:39:43

Ceanothus too.

SeaRabbit Tue 19-Feb-19 07:17:49

Daphne Odora aurea marginata. It's been flowering for more than a month, with lots more to come, and I cut little bits and bring them in for the scent. The gold edge on the leaves keeps the interest through the year.

MrsBertBibby Tue 19-Feb-19 09:23:03

Some good ideas here, thank you! I'm after pretty tall stuff, the wall/fence will be pretty high from our side, as their land sits significantly higher than us.

The peony suggestion however reminded me of tree peonies. Anyone have much joy with them? Ceanothus is already plotted for closer to the house, we have a shed that needs moving and then screening. Love it!
Witch hazel is a fab call, I have wanted one for ever!

Also buddleia, that reminds me of my discovery of weeping buddleia last year, anyone tried that? Another for the list!

Bumbo, do you have a name for the verbena you mention?

That daphne is going in, definitely.

I'm thinking a mahonia in the shadiest corner, not my favourite but himself (and more importantly, my bees) like them. Any tips for a really sculptural one with deep winter flowers?

NanTheWiser Tue 19-Feb-19 10:19:59

Winter honeysuckle - Lonicera x purpusii grows into a large shrub that starts to flower in December/January, with a lovely perfume. Mine is in full flower at the moment, and the bumble bees love it!

Bagpuss5 Tue 19-Feb-19 10:33:35

Kolkwitzia was a 20 ft shrub when I moved in but it had prob been in the ground 10-15 years so you have to be patient. It has a lovely show of pinky white flowers in summer, and you don't see it often though hardy.
Another is deutzia- a pretty show of pale pink flowers in summer and easy to take cuttings from.
Buddleia Alternifolia is the weeping one.
I only plant tough shrubs now, so ribes gives early colour, though not a very pretty shrub, the hedgerow fuschia is good, flowers in late summer but has spreading roots, I think it is Mrs Popple, and mahonia grows in shade.

peeree Tue 19-Feb-19 10:37:33

Arbutus Unedo/Strawberry Tree.

We love ours. Everygreen with a beautiful reddish bark and almost luminous strawberries over winter along with beautiful small flowers. Man in garden centre recommended it.

UtterlyDesperate Tue 19-Feb-19 10:38:09

I have an enormous tree peony in my garden that my DGF grew from seed: it's year-round interest, tolerates shade and dryness at certain times of the year, and is stunning when in bloom.

I also have a twenty foot pieris which always looks impressive, and I love rhododendrons and camellias.

How about some cornus for winter interest, plus, as PP said, daphne odorata, and also wintersweet?

Mahonia is interesting all year round too.

MrsAird Thu 21-Feb-19 19:47:56

sophora for winter colour, food for bees and pretty leaves

I know you will be having a ceanothus closer to the house, but the best plant I ever planted was my ceanothus arboreus. It has grown to 15 feet in 4 years, it has pale blue blossoms nearly all year round, attractive leaves, and it's easy to train. see here

MrsBertBibby Thu 21-Feb-19 20:37:20

Ooh, I had not come across sophora before.

Nor had I thought of ceanothus in a hedge. I may have killed off some of our privet with extreme trimming (next door are a bit miffed, but really, it was 20 feet high) so that might be a much better replacement. We have the worst hedges. Bloody dogwood, unruly privet, some scrappy firs, sycamore stumps that WILL NOT die, and all choked with rampant ivy. If I won the lottery I would get the whole lot grubbed up and start again.

PigeonofDoom Thu 21-Feb-19 21:04:37

Viburnum plicatum is a lovely, lovely shrub with lacey white flowers. It’s slow growing though. For bees in spring there is ribes sanguineum. A little bit retro but I love it and the bees do too! Lovely cascades of pink flowers.

I would LOVE a strawberry tree, they are so pretty. Wouldn’t survive in my cold wet garden though sad

Snugglepiggy Fri 22-Feb-19 08:59:48

Whilst I love hydrangeas and have a couple they are if I remember sterile and therefore no use to pollinators.
I can't recommend enough a shrub called Caryopteris.Dont be out off by photos online where it looks nothing much,In mid/ late summer it is smothered in all types of bees, has a lovely limey green foliage -different types are available- and really pretty soft blue flowers.Apparently bees are attracted to blue and purple .
Caenothus for spring / early summer - but I prune mine back pretty hard as can become a beast.Depends how much space you want to fill.Only a once a year job and I enjoy reshaping it.
Lavender and thyme if you have room at the front of the border.And I used to think Nepeta- cat mint -was boring but there are some lovely compact ,and white ones if you want a contrast.Again bees adore.And those will give you amazing scent as you walk past your border.

UnaOfStormhold Fri 22-Feb-19 09:13:47

I was about to suggest winter honeysuckle and mahonia - both smell gorgeous and are perfect for those sunny winter/early spring days. Flowering currants are lovely (and traditionally considered an indicator that it's time for the first hive inspection of the year!) I love hawthorn and blackthorn for the flowers and berries and both are good bee plants. Something to keep going through the June gap is worthwhile too - cherry Laurel is good because it has extra-floral nectaries so is still a food source once the flowers are over. At the other end of the year fatsia japonica is a good late-flowering plant.

(How are your bees by the way? Both hives seem to be coming through winter nicely, loads of them out foraging a few days ago when it was sunny.)

MrsBertBibby Fri 22-Feb-19 09:15:36

This long list is getting a bit long! Excellent!

I think hydrangeas vary, the lace cap ones are sterile, but I saw some (paniculata?) last summer in the GC that were impossible to buy because they were HEAVING with honey bees. Lovely creamy cones of flowers. So that's a maybe.

MrsBertBibby Fri 22-Feb-19 09:23:07

Bees are going great so far, touch wood. Loads of them roaring in and out with masses of pollen going in, so hopefully they will make it through.

We've a fair bit of cherry laurel, and I am rescuing a hawthorn from mile-high privet. Himself loathes flowering currants, so that's verboten.

MonaChopsis Fri 22-Feb-19 09:24:14

Nodding along to many of the options above, but noticed that forsythia hadn't had a mention yet

PookyHook Fri 22-Feb-19 12:08:46

I'm planting a new shrub/mixed border at the moment and so far I have planted a climbing hydrangea, a viburnum plicatum, a pyracantha, a ceanothus, two lacecap hydrangeas, hydrangea paniculata 'vanille fraise' and sambucus 'black beauty'.

I love the sambucus, I plan to make lots of pink elderflower champagne. They take really easily from cuttings, I ended up with three of them because when I ordered it online it arrived broken and I stuck the broken twigs into the soil in the garden. Most people seem to prefer 'black lace' with the lacy leaves, but I think 'black beauty' with full leaves is prettier.

I'm also planting lots of roses.

My neighbour in my old house had a flowering current and a forsythia that hung over the wall into our garden. They were gorgeous in the spring, the place would be full of bumble bees.

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