10 Best Things about Shrubs - Bushes. Why to Plant Them
I am already thinking that I have set myself an impossible
task with this page title. Not because it will be difficult to
think of ten good things about shrubs, but because it will be
difficult to limit the advantages of growing shrubs to just 10
I have grown shrubs as a nurseryman; I have sold shrubs as a garden
center owner; I have planted shrubs as a gardener and not least, I have
studied shrubs as a plant photographer.
So, the following list will come as a result of around 40 years of
professionally dealing with shrubs, or bushes, as sometimes called.
Most of my mails asking for help and advice, have been relating to
shrubs. This is not because shrubs are hard to look after, or subject to
an unfair range of problems. It is simply because they are not always
understood. The gardening trade would do well to address this lack of
knowledge or information if they want to increase turnover, and make a
lot of friends in the process. But that is for another article, not
Overall versatility and wide range of choices
make shrubs one of the most attractive propositions for the garden.
Climbing shrubs; Groundcover shrubs; winter or summer flowering; and
of course spring; amazing foliage; good container plants; easy of
maintenance; the list could go on.
Landscaping with Shrubs.
Acer palmatum Osia-Beni autumn | Potentilla
fruiticosa Vilmoriniana | Callicarpa bodineri var.
Many enlightened garden designers, utilise the versatility of shrubs
in their garden landscape designs. Not without good reason, for shrubs
will often give an 'instant' effect. Some would argue that a garden
without shrubs leaves much to be desired!
1. When you buy a shrub, it is a one-off purchase
that will give years of pleasure or purpose.
This may seem a strange number one on the list, but it is
often the reason why people do NOT buy shrubs. It is not always
appreciated how much work and investment has gone into the
production of shrubs that you see in the garden centre. Some
will have been grown at the nursery for two or three years. Much
longer in the case of slower growing shrubs. Realise also, that
your shrub will normally fill more space than a car boot full of
bedding plants – and for year after year!
2. Shrubs are easy to grow and care for.
Providing that you plant your shrub in the right place, most
shrubs are relatively maintenance free – especially when
compared with other plants in the garden, such as
herbaceous perennials and
annual bedding plants. Pruning is often seen as a problem, or
even a reason not to plant shrubs. See our shrub pruning guide
and fear not!
3. Shrubs are versatile.
Wherever the situation in the garden, there will be a wide
range of shrubs which are suitable for growing there. Shade or
Sun; Wet or Dry; Hot or Cold; Tall or Low; Spreading or Upright.
In short – anywhere, any situation! Add to those situations the
fact that there are
flowering shrubs that will flower at any time in the year;
there are shrubs that have scented flowers or aromatic foliage;
shrubs for privacy and shrubs for ground cover; shrubs with
stunning stem colour or a wide range of foliage colour;
- or deciduous, to allow a little extra light when needed in the
winter. Shrubs can easily be grown in containers. That’s the way
they are normally grown in the nursery!
4. Shrubs are quite easy to propagate.
Most shrubs can be easily propagated into new little plants
by taking cuttings,
or layers, or sometimes buy seed. Some will need grafting or
budding onto different rootstocks, so best avoided by the
amateur in the first instance.
5. Shrubs extend the period of interest in gardens.
When all else has died down in the garden, or simply
withdrawn into the relative warmth of soil in the winter, shrubs
will still be there. With careful choice, the
will be in the garden and can
take on a new lease of life. Autumn colour of course, needs no
introduction! By planting a dogwood or so,
you could have 5 winter months full of interesting
coloured stems. Also, don't be fooled into thinking that
only summer flowers have scent. Many winter shrubs with
6. Shrubs add maturity to gardens and to
That is not to say that you will age quicker by planting
shrubs, but rather, gardening with shrubs will normally make you
more aware of what can be achieved in your garden. It will also
help you as a gardener to be more aware of the design/landscape
possibilities with your plot. Try it and see!
7. Shrubs are good homes for beneficial insects and
This will not be everyone’s choice for buying and planting
shrubs – more the pity. If we try to garden without wildlife –
in all its forms – we will be the losers. You do not have to
wear green wellies to appreciate and benefit
from wildlife in the garden.
8. Shrubs normally adapt to climatic changes.
Once established, most shrubs will withstand a wide range of
climatic changes. For hard winter areas, choose shrubs which are
reliable hardy. The first winter season is normally the most
difficult for shrubs to endure. Sometimes, damage in the first
winter does not start to show through until mid spring or even
early summer. Some shrubs are much more hardy than realized –
once they become properly established.
9. Shrubs are protective for other plants and your
own living environment.
Larger shrubs in particular, are good for windbreaks,
filtering the effects of the wind from other less robust plants,
and also for our own personal comfort. A
shrub screen is much
more effective at slowing the effects of strong wind, whereas a
solid fence, simply diverts the wind downwards causing eddies
that can harm many plants.
10. Shrubs can be rejuvenated quite easily.
From time to time, certain shrubs start to look old or even
outgrow their allotted area. Many
shrubs can be cut back
hard to restrict growth, which at the same time gives the
shrub a new lease of life. The mailbox is always populated with
questions about overgrown shrubs, and what to do. This should
allay some the main reasons for not planting shrubs!