Encyclopedia of Planting Combinations: The Ultimate Visual Guide to Successful Plant Harmony

Overview

All gardeners have favorite plants, but they often get stumped when it comes to knowing which plants to put beside those favorites. Confidence in which combinations work can mean the difference between a mediocre garden and one that sings. The Encyclopedia of Planting Combinations is the perfect tool to help gardeners create a stunning garden.

This inspiring planting guide features: - More than 4,000 combinations for beautiful and successful plantings - Over 1,000 plant ...

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Overview

All gardeners have favorite plants, but they often get stumped when it comes to knowing which plants to put beside those favorites. Confidence in which combinations work can mean the difference between a mediocre garden and one that sings. The Encyclopedia of Planting Combinations is the perfect tool to help gardeners create a stunning garden.

This inspiring planting guide features: - More than 4,000 combinations for beautiful and successful plantings - Over 1,000 plant descriptions with full color photographs and cultivation needs - Extensive information on suggested combinations and complementary plants, all fully cross-referenced - At-a-glance symbols - How to assess a site, choose plants and plant borders - How to combine form, color, texture, size and foliage - How to combine plants according to location, soil, climate and seasons

With authoritative and imaginative text, superb photographs and hundreds of planting combinations, The Encyclopedia of Planting Combinations is an exciting sourcebook for gardeners of all experience levels.

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Editorial Reviews

Booklist - Carol Haggas
Covers all the bases with concise yet comprehensive commentaries on the design characteristics of more than 1,000 individual plants ... Lord could set a new standard for the term user-friendly, for few guides could rival his treatise for the practicality of its structure or for the quality of its information ... this guide is a god send.
Argyle (Globe and Mail Supplement)
Since the warm spring months would be incomplete without a good gardening book, check out the updated editions of [these] two door-stopping classics of the genre. [featured with Perennials]
Gardens Illustrated - Paul Williams
A very good reference book whether or not you are trying to find successful combinations — and a book of exceptional value.
American Reference Books Annual, Volume 35 - Paul Mogren
This book is a visual delight... It is beautiful to look at, informative to read, and offers first-rate suggestions for making one's garden truly a work of art.
E-Streams Vol. 6, No. 4 - William Johnson
Unique among gardening books available today with its practical recognition of what makes garden-scapes beautifully tranquil.
Globe and Mail
A book of rare quality, this tome ought to be in every serious gardener's library.
Choice - S.C. Awe
Concise text and abundant, gorgeous photos ... make this reference source, especially at its reasonable price, essential for libraries and aspiring gardeners everywhere.
Kitchener-Waterloo Record - David Hobson
Wow! This is a stunning book. Packed with a menu of suggestions, it shows how a simple garden can be turned into a work of art.
Seattle Times - Valerie Easton
[An] unusual reference that is both inspirational and practical, for the photos are beautiful and the writing clear and detailed.
Canadian Gardening - Christina Selby
The most important lesson I took from this book is that form, whether in flower or foliage, is paramount to creating perfect plant pairings.
Neil Sperry's Gardens Magazine - Susanna Reid
A brilliant gardening resource. Make no mistake. This is no ordinary encyclopedia.
Vancouver Sun - Steve Whysall
[Andrew Lawson's] exceptional images alone make this plant encyclopedia a pleasure to own.
Vancouver Province - Kerry Moore
What a wonderful resource... truly encyclopedic.
The American Gardener - Mark Miller
Overall the book offers beginning gardeners a wealth of creative ideas for planning their gardens, and it contains enough innovative combinations to be of value to more experienced gardeners and landscape designers.
Chronicle-Journal (Thunder Bay) - Linda Turk
Beautiful colour photos, sturdy binding, excellent research presented in a sensible format and an engaging writing style...Helps gardeners create beautiful and harmonious gardens.... The Encyclopedia of Planting Combinations is a lively and authoritative book, packed with information.
Inc. www.gardenclub.org National Garden Clubs
[A] comprehensive guide for both novice and experienced gardeners...Accompanied by a bounty of gorgeous color photographs... This book contains invaluable information on plant selection and placement. The color illustrations throughout the book are particularly enlightening
The American Gardener - Mark Miller
Overall the book offers beginning gardeners a wealth of creative ideas for planning their gardens, and it contains enough innovative combinations to be of value to more experienced gardeners and landscape designers.
David Hobson
Wow! This is a stunning book. Packed with a menu of suggestions, it shows how a simple garden can be turned into a work of art.
Kitchener-Waterloo Record
Valerie Easton
[An] unusual reference that is both inspirational and practical, for the photos are beautiful and the writing clear and detailed.
Seattle Times
S.C. Awe
Concise text and abundant, gorgeous photos ... essential for libraries and aspiring gardeners everywhere.
Choice
Christina Selby
The most important lesson I took from this book is that form, whether in flower or foliage, is paramount to creating perfect plant pairings.
Canadian Gardening
Library Journal
Lord (Designing with Roses) and Lawson (Great English Gardens) have produced a stunning book that is destined to become an essential reference on combining plants. A practical introduction to that art covers analyzing the site; choosing plants with form, texture, and color in mind; planting borders; and providing aftercare. More than 1000 individual species are organized into chapters by type: shrubs and small trees, climbers, roses, perennials, bulbs, and annuals. Each entry includes the plant's botanical name, common name, genus, species, and variety. Symbols are used to indicate light level, soil water content, soil conditions, hardiness zones, pH, flowering season, height and spread, and a list of planting partners. Beautiful color photographs show each plant in subtle harmony-or in bold contrast-with one or more plants. Each entry is cross-referenced to other entries illustrating other combinations with this plant. The hardiness zone maps cover North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. One caveat: although most plant combinations are adaptable to diverse U.S. climates, the range of plants is best suited to conditions similar to those of the United Kingdom. Still, books on combining plants are scarce, so this authoritative text is appropriate for horticultural libraries. The clear advice and vivid photographs render it equally suitable for public libraries in the appropriate regions. [Garden Book Club selection.]-Nancy Myers, Univ. of South Dakota Lib., Vermillion Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781552096239
  • Publisher: Firefly Books, Limited
  • Publication date: 9/7/2002
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 416
  • Product dimensions: 9.25 (w) x 11.75 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Tony Lord is an author, photographer and horticultural consultant. His books include Designing with Roses and Best Borders, winner of the 1994 Garden Writers' Guild "Best General Gardening Book" Award. He edits the Royal Horticultural Society's Plant Finder, and lectures widely. Tony Lord is also a Gardens Advisor to Britain's National Trust.

Andrew Lawson is a leading garden photographer contributing to magazines such as Gardens Illustrated and House and Garden. He has been honored twice by the Garden Writers' Guild, winning an award in 1996 for his book The Gardener's Book of Colour, and was named Garden Photographer of The Year in 1999.

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Read an Excerpt

Excerpted from the Section "Shrubs and Small Trees" are the introduction and sample entries. Each entry is accompanied by a full color photograph of the plant.

In most garden plantings a proportion of shrubs and a small selection of trees are essential to provide height, bulk, structure and, with the inclusion of some evergreens, year-round interest.

There is a wide choice of shrubs, varying from low ground-covering potentillas to towering abutilons, from fine-textured genistas to giant-leaved rhododendrons, from those shrubs with fleeting flowers such as amelanchiers to those that are non-stop performers such as hydrangeas, their dried flower heads persisting through the winter months. Some shrubs are deciduous, perhaps with colorful autumn foliage, others are evergreen.

The boundary between shrubs and small trees is a blurred one. Pittosporums, lilacs, philadelphus, and many others start their life as shrubs and if pruned to a single stem, can eventually make picturesque small trees. Trees display all the attributes of shrubs, but higher above ground level, often on trunks that have their own merits of elegant outline or attractive bark.

Making a selection

Trees and shrubs contribute to both the structure and the decoration of the garden, and it is important to bear these two aspects in mind when selecting and arranging them. In most situations, it is best to avoid thinking in terms of the "shrub border" and to plan instead to use trees and shrubs to enhance the whole garden. Selecting only those species that will grow well in the particular soil and situation will ensure that they thrive with minimum effort andwill also create a strong sense of unity in the garden.

Small trees and the taller shrubs can be used to create height and as focal points. Birches with their pale trunks, lilacs with their spring blossom, or the very elegant paperbark maple, in groups or as single specimens, will draw the eye, frame views, and create a canopy to capture views of the sky. In large enough groups -- even a well-placed trio in a small garden -- the atmosphere of a wood or wild garden can be created: viewed from the rest of the garden, the trees form attractive masses, while under their canopy is a scene of vertical trunks and cool green shade with a rich woodland ground flora.

Once the high points have been decided on, the major shrubs can be distributed to form bold accents at a lower level: witch hazels for their spidery winter flowers, magnolias and rhododendrons for their blooms in spring and early summer, along with bright green-yellow or gold-leaved specimens such as euphorbias and Philadelphus coronarius 'Aureus'. Hydrangeas are ideal for autumn interest. Mahonias and many of the conifers are good for texture and greenery all year round, playing an especially important role in maintaining structure and interest through the winter. The shrubs at this level should not be crowded together to grow into shapeless masses but, instead, are best placed where they will display themselves most effectively: those with autumn color where the sun will shine through them; those with bright winter stems where the low winter light falls; fragrant plants near enough to the edge of the planting to be smelled and in sheltered situations so the scent will be concentrated.

When the star cast of trees and specimen shrubs has been assembled, attention can be turned to the chorus, the less dramatic but no less important plants that will enclose and shelter the garden, guide people through it, subdivide larger plots into smaller and more comfortable spaces, and conceal any undesirable views. For these purposes there is a great army of well-behaved but less exciting (and usually much less expensive) shrubs.

Finally, having established the structure of the garden with shrubs growing from waist height (where they will obstruct physical movement) to eye level and above (as visual barriers), attention can be turned to the ground plane. Here low plants can be woven together: lavenders, cistus, and rosemaries do well on dry soils, while the heathers, leucothoes, smaller rhododendrons, and many others are ideal for moist, acid situations. Knee-high shrubs will cover the ground to reduce the necessity for weeding; they will also soften the transition between lawns and paving and fences, walls, and trees, and will create their own tapestry of foliage, flowers, and form.

Designing shrub borders

Where a shrub border is what is required, it should not be thought of as a form of herbaceous border -- a series of more-or-less equally sized blocks or drifts with a different plant in each. While occasionally helpful in a herbaceous border, in a shrub border this approach can be disastrous because the basic building unit, the shrub, is much larger and usually less colorful than the individual herbaceous plant. Therefore, each shrub group will be too large to relate effectively to its neighbors. What is needed in shrub planting is much greater variation in grouping, from individual specimen plants to substantial masses of ten, twenty, or more lower ground covers. The outlines of the larger groups should be irregular, like pieces in a jigsaw, so that they are linked together more firmly. The spacing between specimens in a group should also be varied, unless formality is intended. Lessons can be learned from natural groupings of trees, rocks, or even animals in a field, and it is worth spending time playing with circles on paper to achieve the right effect.

Finishing touches and after-care

Woody plants usually start off much too small for their situation but then grow inexorably, often eventually becoming much too large. Thinness in the early stages can be compensated for by interplanting the permanent selection with short-lived and quick-growing shrubs (brooms and lavateras, for example), herbaceous perennials, or annuals. Care must be taken to avoid smothering the long-term plants with their temporary companions, but this type of planting is much better than crowding together the permanent plants for instant effect, and paying the penalties of overcrowding forever after.

In fact, useful though trees and shrubs are in a garden, it is neither necessary nor desirable to grow them to the exclusion of other plants. Spring bulbs provide an intensity of color and freshness of new life unrivaled by any shrub, and they will clothe the ground beneath deciduous shrubs and trees with an early and beautiful carpet. Lilies will push through the lower shrubs to flower in late summer. Herbaceous plants extend the flowering season and break the monotony of an over-reliance on shrubs. Stout clumps of peonies, arching sheaves of daylilies, and tall branching heads of Japanese anemones will all create a greater sense of seasonal change and welcome lightness among the woody permanence of the shrubs. For an even lighter effect, proportions can be shifted from a mainly shrubby border, relieved by occasional marginal groups of other plants, to a thoroughly "mixed" border in which shrubs, herbaceous plants, annuals, bulbs, and climbers are assembled in a balanced community.

Once the permanent shrubs and trees have reached the desired size, it may be necessary to restrict their growth to prevent the garden deteriorating into a tangle of the most aggressive species. If time is available, rule-book pruning can be adopted. This is an art in itself and very satisfying. On a larger scale it is often simpler to prune plants periodically, cutting one in five -- or perhaps one group in five -- to ground level and allowing them to regrow.

 

Abelia x grandiflora 'Francis Mason'

Most often grown as a foliage plant, this vigorous semi-evergreen shrub has bright gold-edged leaves, which overwhelm its pale blush-pink flowers and reddish bronze stems, calyces, and young shoots. It contrasts well with blue flowers and glaucous foliage, but it is most effective with warm and hot colors, gold-variegated foliage, red- or orange-leaved shrubs like photinias, and yellow-green foliage and flowers. Its slightly amorphous form benefits from association with plants of contrasting growth habit, such as bamboos, grasses, Japanese maples, and pyracanthas pruned to produce long, arching shoots. 'Sunrise' is similar, less than 1m (3 1/4ft) high and wide, and makes an excellent ground cover -- as do 'Prostrata' and cream-variegated Confetti ('Conti'), both 50cm (20in) by 1.5m (5ft). A. x grandiflora is more vigorous than the cultivars with unmarked leaves, and is useful for its late flowers.

PLANT COMBINATIONS:
Aralia elata 'Aureovariegata', Berberis temolaica, B. thunbergii'Red Chief', Delphinium Belladonna Group, Fargesia murielae 'Bimbo', Pyracantha 'Golden Dome'

Height: 1.5m (5ft)
Spread: 2m (6 1/2ft)
Flowering Season: Mid- to late summer
Light Level: full, day-long sun
Soil Water Content: Always moist, never waterlogged or dry
Soil: light well drained to medium with adequate drainage
Zone 6
pH 6-8

Abies koreana 'Silberlocke'

A slow-growing fir with glaucous silver-backed needles and deep purplish blue upright cones, 'Silberlocke' produces its best colors in full sun and relatively poor soil. It deserves prominence as a single specimen in a heather garden, island bed, or large rock garden, surrounded by shorter carpeting plants such as heaths and heathers, shorter-growing ericaceous plants including dwarf rhododendrons, prostrate vacciniums and cassiopes, and smaller grasses like rescues. This ground cover may be planted with smaller spring bulbs, especially blue-flowered kinds such as scillas and muscaris, and soft yellow or white narcissi. 'Silberlocke' is not suitable for borders, where neighboring plants can suppress growth on one or both sides of the fir, spoiling its attractive symmetry.

PLANT COMBINATIONS:
Calluna vulgaris 'Gold Haze', Cassiope 'Edinburgh', Narcissus 'April Tears', N. 'Ice Wings', Rhododendron 'Sarled', Scilla siberica, Vaccinium vitis-idaea 'Koralle'

Height: 1.8m (6ft)
Spread: 1.2m (4ft)
Flowering Season: Spring (flowers insignificant or not main feature)
Soil Water Content: Always moist, never waterlogged or dry
Soil: light well drained to medium with adequate drainage
Zone: 5
pH: 5-6.5

Abutilon vitifolium var. album

This large, upright deciduous shrub, quick-growing but short-lived, has grey-white woolly stems, vine-shaped leaves, and large, translucent white flowers with a central golden disk. It benefits from a sunny site, particularly in areas with cool summers, and looks effective against a dark evergreen background, or in a shrub border if isolated to emphasize its vase shape. It mixes well with tall herbaceous plants, such as white foxgloves or delphiniums and silvery Scotch thistles, while its flowering season suits combinations with larger Shrub roses and early-flowering buddlejas. Although blending successfully with almost any color, it is outstanding with pale flowers and silver or glaucous foliage, and may be used to support clematis or honeysuckles flowering in late spring or early summer. 'Tennant's White' is a particularly choice selection.

PLANTING COMBINATIONS:
Buddleja alternifolia 'Argentea', Clematis 'Bees Jubilee', Delphinium Galahad Group, Eremurus robustus, Onopordum nervosum, Rosa 'Fantin-Latour'

Height: 5m (16ft)
Spread: 2.5m (8ft)
Flowering Season: Late spring to mid-summer
Soil Water Content: Always moist, never waterlogged or dry
Soil: light well drained to medium with adequate drainage
Zone: 8
pH: 5.5-7

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Table of Contents

How to Use This Book
Hardiness Zones

The Art of Combining Plants

  • Assessing the Site
  • Choosing plants
  • Form and texture
  • Color in the garden
  • Planting borders
Shrubs and Small Trees
  • Abelia x gradiflora 'Francis Mason' to Pyrus salicifolia 'Pendula'
  • Rhododendrons including Azaleas
    Rhododendron 'Amethyst' to Weigela 'Florida Variegata'
Climbers
  • Aconitum hemsleyanum to Ampelopsis glandulosa var. brevipedunculata 'Elegans'
  • Clematis

    Clematis 'Alba Luxurians' to Wisteria sinensis
Roses
  • Climbers and Ramblers
    Rosa 'Albertine' to Rosa 'Sophie's Perpetual'
  • Old Shrub Roses
    Rosa 'Charles de Mills' to Rosa 'Zéphirien Drouhin'
  • Larger species and larger modern Shrub roses
    Rosa Bonica ('Meidomonac') to Rosa 'Sally Holmes'
  • Hybrid Teas and Floribundas
    Rosa Avalanche ('Jacay') to Rosa 'Yesterday'
  • Smaller species and smaller modern Shrub roses
    Rosa elegantula 'Persetosa' to Rosa Sweet Dream ('Fryminicot')
  • Ground Cover roses
    Rosa 'Nozomi' to Rosa Surrey ('Korlanum')
Perennials
  • Acanthus spinosus to Gentiana asclepiadea
  • Geraniums
    Geranium albanum to x Heucherella alba 'Rosalie'
  • Hostas
    Hosta 'August Moon' to Hosta undulata var. albomarginata
  • Irises
    Iris chrysographes to Yucca flaccida 'Golden Sword'
Bulbs
  • Allium carinatum subsp. pulchellum to Tigridia pavonia
  • Tulips
    Tulipa 'Abu Hassan' to Zigadenus elegans
Annuals
  • Aeonium 'Zwartkop' to Cosmos bipinnatus
  • Dahlias
    Dahlia 'Alva's Doris' to Zinnia 'Persian Carpet Mixed'

Common Plant Names
Index
Acknowledgements

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Preface

Excerpted from the Section "Shrubs and Small Trees" are the introduction and sample entries. Each entry is accompanied by a full color photograph of the plant.

In most garden plantings a proportion of shrubs and a small selection of trees are essential to provide height, bulk, structure and, with the inclusion of some evergreens, year-round interest.

There is a wide choice of shrubs, varying from low ground-covering potentillas to towering abutilons, from fine-textured genistas to giant-leaved rhododendrons, from those shrubs with fleeting flowers such as amelanchiers to those that are non-stop performers such as hydrangeas, their dried flower heads persisting through the winter months. Some shrubs are deciduous, perhaps with colorful autumn foliage, others are evergreen.

The boundary between shrubs and small trees is a blurred one. Pittosporums, lilacs, philadelphus, and many others start their life as shrubs and if pruned to a single stem, can eventually make picturesque small trees. Trees display all the attributes of shrubs, but higher above ground level, often on trunks that have their own merits of elegant outline or attractive bark.

Making a selection

Trees and shrubs contribute to both the structure and the decoration of the garden, and it is important to bear these two aspects in mind when selecting and arranging them. In most situations, it is best to avoid thinking in terms of the "shrub border" and to plan instead to use trees and shrubs to enhance the whole garden. Selecting only those species that will grow well in the particular soil and situation will ensure that they thrive with minimum effort and will also create a strong sense of unity in the garden.

Small trees and the taller shrubs can be used to create height and as focal points. Birches with their pale trunks, lilacs with their spring blossom, or the very elegant paperbark maple, in groups or as single specimens, will draw the eye, frame views, and create a canopy to capture views of the sky. In large enough groups — even a well-placed trio in a small garden — the atmosphere of a wood or wild garden can be created: viewed from the rest of the garden, the trees form attractive masses, while under their canopy is a scene of vertical trunks and cool green shade with a rich woodland ground flora.

Once the high points have been decided on, the major shrubs can be distributed to form bold accents at a lower level: witch hazels for their spidery winter flowers, magnolias and rhododendrons for their blooms in spring and early summer, along with bright green-yellow or gold-leaved specimens such as euphorbias and Philadelphus coronarius 'Aureus'. Hydrangeas are ideal for autumn interest. Mahonias and many of the conifers are good for texture and greenery all year round, playing an especially important role in maintaining structure and interest through the winter. The shrubs at this level should not be crowded together to grow into shapeless masses but, instead, are best placed where they will display themselves most effectively: those with autumn color where the sun will shine through them; those with bright winter stems where the low winter light falls; fragrant plants near enough to the edge of the planting to be smelled and in sheltered situations so the scent will be concentrated.

When the star cast of trees and specimen shrubs has been assembled, attention can be turned to the chorus, the less dramatic but no less important plants that will enclose and shelter the garden, guide people through it, subdivide larger plots into smaller and more comfortable spaces, and conceal any undesirable views. For these purposes there is a great army of well-behaved but less exciting (and usually much less expensive) shrubs.

Finally, having established the structure of the garden with shrubs growing from waist height (where they will obstruct physical movement) to eye level and above (as visual barriers), attention can be turned to the ground plane. Here low plants can be woven together: lavenders, cistus, and rosemaries do well on dry soils, while the heathers, leucothoes, smaller rhododendrons, and many others are ideal for moist, acid situations. Knee-high shrubs will cover the ground to reduce the necessity for weeding; they will also soften the transition between lawns and paving and fences, walls, and trees, and will create their own tapestry of foliage, flowers, and form.

Designing shrub borders

Where a shrub border is what is required, it should not be thought of as a form of herbaceous border — a series of more-or-less equally sized blocks or drifts with a different plant in each. While occasionally helpful in a herbaceous border, in a shrub border this approach can be disastrous because the basic building unit, the shrub, is much larger and usually less colorful than the individual herbaceous plant. Therefore, each shrub group will be too large to relate effectively to its neighbors. What is needed in shrub planting is much greater variation in grouping, from individual specimen plants to substantial masses of ten, twenty, or more lower ground covers. The outlines of the larger groups should be irregular, like pieces in a jigsaw, so that they are linked together more firmly. The spacing between specimens in a group should also be varied, unless formality is intended. Lessons can be learned from natural groupings of trees, rocks, or even animals in a field, and it is worth spending time playing with circles on paper to achieve the right effect.

Finishing touches and after-care

Woody plants usually start off much too small for their situation but then grow inexorably, often eventually becoming much too large. Thinness in the early stages can be compensated for by interplanting the permanent selection with short-lived and quick-growing shrubs (brooms and lavateras, for example), herbaceous perennials, or annuals. Care must be taken to avoid smothering the long-term plants with their temporary companions, but this type of planting is much better than crowding together the permanent plants for instant effect, and paying the penalties of overcrowding forever after.

In fact, useful though trees and shrubs are in a garden, it is neither necessary nor desirable to grow them to the exclusion of other plants. Spring bulbs provide an intensity of color and freshness of new life unrivaled by any shrub, and they will clothe the ground beneath deciduous shrubs and trees with an early and beautiful carpet. Lilies will push through the lower shrubs to flower in late summer. Herbaceous plants extend the flowering season and break the monotony of an over-reliance on shrubs. Stout clumps of peonies, arching sheaves of daylilies, and tall branching heads of Japanese anemones will all create a greater sense of seasonal change and welcome lightness among the woody permanence of the shrubs. For an even lighter effect, proportions can be shifted from a mainly shrubby border, relieved by occasional marginal groups of other plants, to a thoroughly "mixed" border in which shrubs, herbaceous plants, annuals, bulbs, and climbers are assembled in a balanced community.

Once the permanent shrubs and trees have reached the desired size, it may be necessary to restrict their growth to prevent the garden deteriorating into a tangle of the most aggressive species. If time is available, rule-book pruning can be adopted. This is an art in itself and very satisfying. On a larger scale it is often simpler to prune plants periodically, cutting one in five — or perhaps one group in five — to ground level and allowing them to regrow.

Abelia x grandiflora 'Francis Mason'

Most often grown as a foliage plant, this vigorous semi-evergreen shrub has bright gold-edged leaves, which overwhelm its pale blush-pink flowers and reddish bronze stems, calyces, and young shoots. It contrasts well with blue flowers and glaucous foliage, but it is most effective with warm and hot colors, gold-vari

Read More Show Less

Introduction

Excerpted from the Section "Shrubs and Small Trees" are the introduction and sample entries. Each entry is accompanied by a full color photograph of the plant.

In most garden plantings a proportion of shrubs and a small selection of trees are essential to provide height, bulk, structure and, with the inclusion of some evergreens, year-round interest.

There is a wide choice of shrubs, varying from low ground-covering potentillas to towering abutilons, from fine-textured genistas to giant-leaved rhododendrons, from those shrubs with fleeting flowers such as amelanchiers to those that are non-stop performers such as hydrangeas, their dried flower heads persisting through the winter months. Some shrubs are deciduous, perhaps with colorful autumn foliage, others are evergreen.

The boundary between shrubs and small trees is a blurred one. Pittosporums, lilacs, philadelphus, and many others start their life as shrubs and if pruned to a single stem, can eventually make picturesque small trees. Trees display all the attributes of shrubs, but higher above ground level, often on trunks that have their own merits of elegant outline or attractive bark.

Making a selection

Trees and shrubs contribute to both the structure and the decoration of the garden, and it is important to bear these two aspects in mind when selecting and arranging them. In most situations, it is best to avoid thinking in terms of the "shrub border" and to plan instead to use trees and shrubs to enhance the whole garden. Selecting only those species that will grow well in the particular soil and situation will ensure that they thrive with minimum effort and willalso create a strong sense of unity in the garden.

Small trees and the taller shrubs can be used to create height and as focal points. Birches with their pale trunks, lilacs with their spring blossom, or the very elegant paperbark maple, in groups or as single specimens, will draw the eye, frame views, and create a canopy to capture views of the sky. In large enough groups -- even a well-placed trio in a small garden -- the atmosphere of a wood or wild garden can be created: viewed from the rest of the garden, the trees form attractive masses, while under their canopy is a scene of vertical trunks and cool green shade with a rich woodland ground flora.

Once the high points have been decided on, the major shrubs can be distributed to form bold accents at a lower level: witch hazels for their spidery winter flowers, magnolias and rhododendrons for their blooms in spring and early summer, along with bright green-yellow or gold-leaved specimens such as euphorbias and Philadelphus coronarius 'Aureus'. Hydrangeas are ideal for autumn interest. Mahonias and many of the conifers are good for texture and greenery all year round, playing an especially important role in maintaining structure and interest through the winter. The shrubs at this level should not be crowded together to grow into shapeless masses but, instead, are best placed where they will display themselves most effectively: those with autumn color where the sun will shine through them; those with bright winter stems where the low winter light falls; fragrant plants near enough to the edge of the planting to be smelled and in sheltered situations so the scent will be concentrated.

When the star cast of trees and specimen shrubs has been assembled, attention can be turned to the chorus, the less dramatic but no less important plants that will enclose and shelter the garden, guide people through it, subdivide larger plots into smaller and more comfortable spaces, and conceal any undesirable views. For these purposes there is a great army of well-behaved but less exciting (and usually much less expensive) shrubs.

Finally, having established the structure of the garden with shrubs growing from waist height (where they will obstruct physical movement) to eye level and above (as visual barriers), attention can be turned to the ground plane. Here low plants can be woven together: lavenders, cistus, and rosemaries do well on dry soils, while the heathers, leucothoes, smaller rhododendrons, and many others are ideal for moist, acid situations. Knee-high shrubs will cover the ground to reduce the necessity for weeding; they will also soften the transition between lawns and paving and fences, walls, and trees, and will create their own tapestry of foliage, flowers, and form.

Designing shrub borders

Where a shrub border is what is required, it should not be thought of as a form of herbaceous border -- a series of more-or-less equally sized blocks or drifts with a different plant in each. While occasionally helpful in a herbaceous border, in a shrub border this approach can be disastrous because the basic building unit, the shrub, is much larger and usually less colorful than the individual herbaceous plant. Therefore, each shrub group will be too large to relate effectively to its neighbors. What is needed in shrub planting is much greater variation in grouping, from individual specimen plants to substantial masses of ten, twenty, or more lower ground covers. The outlines of the larger groups should be irregular, like pieces in a jigsaw, so that they are linked together more firmly. The spacing between specimens in a group should also be varied, unless formality is intended. Lessons can be learned from natural groupings of trees, rocks, or even animals in a field, and it is worth spending time playing with circles on paper to achieve the right effect.

Finishing touches and after-care

Woody plants usually start off much too small for their situation but then grow inexorably, often eventually becoming much too large. Thinness in the early stages can be compensated for by interplanting the permanent selection with short-lived and quick-growing shrubs (brooms and lavateras, for example), herbaceous perennials, or annuals. Care must be taken to avoid smothering the long-term plants with their temporary companions, but this type of planting is much better than crowding together the permanent plants for instant effect, and paying the penalties of overcrowding forever after.

In fact, useful though trees and shrubs are in a garden, it is neither necessary nor desirable to grow them to the exclusion of other plants. Spring bulbs provide an intensity of color and freshness of new life unrivaled by any shrub, and they will clothe the ground beneath deciduous shrubs and trees with an early and beautiful carpet. Lilies will push through the lower shrubs to flower in late summer. Herbaceous plants extend the flowering season and break the monotony of an over-reliance on shrubs. Stout clumps of peonies, arching sheaves of daylilies, and tall branching heads of Japanese anemones will all create a greater sense of seasonal change and welcome lightness among the woody permanence of the shrubs. For an even lighter effect, proportions can be shifted from a mainly shrubby border, relieved by occasional marginal groups of other plants, to a thoroughly "mixed" border in which shrubs, herbaceous plants, annuals, bulbs, and climbers are assembled in a balanced community.

Once the permanent shrubs and trees have reached the desired size, it may be necessary to restrict their growth to prevent the garden deteriorating into a tangle of the most aggressive species. If time is available, rule-book pruning can be adopted. This is an art in itself and very satisfying. On a larger scale it is often simpler to prune plants periodically, cutting one in five -- or perhaps one group in five -- to ground level and allowing them to regrow.

 

Abelia x grandiflora 'Francis Mason'

Most often grown as a foliage plant, this vigorous semi-evergreen shrub has bright gold-edged leaves, which overwhelm its pale blush-pink flowers and reddish bronze stems, calyces, and young shoots. It contrasts well with blue flowers and glaucous foliage, but it is most effective with warm and hot colors, gold-variegated foliage, red- or orange-leaved shrubs like photinias, and yellow-green foliage and flowers. Its slightly amorphous form benefits from association with plants of contrasting growth habit, such as bamboos, grasses, Japanese maples, and pyracanthas pruned to produce long, arching shoots. 'Sunrise' is similar, less than 1m (3 1/4ft) high and wide, and makes an excellent ground cover -- as do 'Prostrata' and cream-variegated Confetti ('Conti'), both 50cm (20in) by 1.5m (5ft). A. x grandiflora is more vigorous than the cultivars with unmarked leaves, and is useful for its late flowers.

PLANT COMBINATIONS:
Aralia elata 'Aureovariegata', Berberis temolaica, B. thunbergii'Red Chief', Delphinium Belladonna Group, Fargesia murielae 'Bimbo', Pyracantha 'Golden Dome'

Height: 1.5m (5ft)
Spread: 2m (6 1/2ft)
Flowering Season: Mid- to late summer
Light Level: full, day-long sun
Soil Water Content: Always moist, never waterlogged or dry
Soil: light well drained to medium with adequate drainage
Zone 6
pH 6-8

Abies koreana 'Silberlocke'

A slow-growing fir with glaucous silver-backed needles and deep purplish blue upright cones, 'Silberlocke' produces its best colors in full sun and relatively poor soil. It deserves prominence as a single specimen in a heather garden, island bed, or large rock garden, surrounded by shorter carpeting plants such as heaths and heathers, shorter-growing ericaceous plants including dwarf rhododendrons, prostrate vacciniums and cassiopes, and smaller grasses like rescues. This ground cover may be planted with smaller spring bulbs, especially blue-flowered kinds such as scillas and muscaris, and soft yellow or white narcissi. 'Silberlocke' is not suitable for borders, where neighboring plants can suppress growth on one or both sides of the fir, spoiling its attractive symmetry.

PLANT COMBINATIONS:
Calluna vulgaris 'Gold Haze', Cassiope 'Edinburgh', Narcissus 'April Tears', N. 'Ice Wings', Rhododendron 'Sarled', Scilla siberica, Vaccinium vitis-idaea 'Koralle'

Height: 1.8m (6ft)
Spread: 1.2m (4ft)
Flowering Season: Spring (flowers insignificant or not main feature)
Soil Water Content: Always moist, never waterlogged or dry
Soil: light well drained to medium with adequate drainage
Zone: 5
pH: 5-6.5

Abutilon vitifolium var. album

This large, upright deciduous shrub, quick-growing but short-lived, has grey-white woolly stems, vine-shaped leaves, and large, translucent white flowers with a central golden disk. It benefits from a sunny site, particularly in areas with cool summers, and looks effective against a dark evergreen background, or in a shrub border if isolated to emphasize its vase shape. It mixes well with tall herbaceous plants, such as white foxgloves or delphiniums and silvery Scotch thistles, while its flowering season suits combinations with larger Shrub roses and early-flowering buddlejas. Although blending successfully with almost any color, it is outstanding with pale flowers and silver or glaucous foliage, and may be used to support clematis or honeysuckles flowering in late spring or early summer. 'Tennant's White' is a particularly choice selection.

PLANTING COMBINATIONS:
Buddleja alternifolia 'Argentea', Clematis 'Bees Jubilee', Delphinium Galahad Group, Eremurus robustus, Onopordum nervosum, Rosa 'Fantin-Latour'

Height: 5m (16ft)
Spread: 2.5m (8ft)
Flowering Season: Late spring to mid-summer
Soil Water Content: Always moist, never waterlogged or dry
Soil: light well drained to medium with adequate drainage
Zone: 8
pH: 5.5-7

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