What a marvellous spring we have had. So warm I had some bluebells out at the end of March.
Not everyone has room for a large shrub border, but there are so many small shrubs available that it is easy to fit one in. They are much less work that a conventional border. Something to plan for when you find the garden becoming a chore.
One plant that always looks good whatever the weather is erica x darleyensis. This is a winter flowering heather that continues into late spring. Many of them will flower from November till April, not many shrubs do that. It will grow happily in limey soil and does not need peat to keep it happy. Unlike the normal ground hugging heathers, this grows much taller and bushier. If you are thinking of small shrubs for a border this is very useful. You clip it after flowering to tidy it up. It comes in all the usual heather colours. I have had one for thirty years and it has thrived on neglect. I have just ordered six more from The Heather Garden near Verwood, north of Wimborne Minster I have left the choice up to them just asking for the tallest in mixed colours.
It always helps to have some evergreen shrubs in a border to give winter interest. Other ones are the sarcococcas, with scented flowers in February, Hebes which come in many colours like the heathers, and dwarf berberis. The berberis tend to have orange flowers. Which don’t mix well with the heathers. The dwarf pittosporum are not that small after a few years. If you have good drainage the santolinas in grey, green and gold are very pretty and add a lighter touch. For flowers later in the year there is a new choysia called Royal Lace which just grows to one metre and has lime to gold foliage. The choysias are very useful as they flower in Spring and Autumn. You could add the prostraterosemary and the ceanothus repens. To add some variegation use the euonymus such as Silver Queen or Emerald and Gold. These hump up or will climb given the chance. Other useful variegated shrubs are the lonicera nitidas which come in the usual hedging green, gold and a delightful grey. Just prune to keep tidy.
With an edging of evergreen grasses you will have a border that looks good all year.
[Please note that this message is not posted on behalf of Bentworth Parish Council and does not necessarily reflect the Parish Council’s policy]