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 choices!
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 here.
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.
Acer palmatum Osia-Beni autumn | Potentilla fruiticosa Vilmoriniana | Callicarpa bodineri var. giraldii 'Profusion
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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