Shrubs: Discover the Perfect Plant for Every Place in Your Garden

Shrubs: Discover the Perfect Plant for Every Place in Your Garden

by Andy McIndoe


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A Shrub for Every Situation

Shrubs are the perfect plant—they are low-maintenance, there is a variety for nearly every need, and they are widely available at garden centers and nurseries. In his new book Shrubs, Andy McIndoe—one of the world’s foremost woody plant experts—shares all the information and advice you need to pick the right shrub for every site and condition. Shrubs includes plant suggestions for challenging growing conditions and restricted planting spaces, along with shrubs chosen for their desirable characteristics—like hardiness in shade, difficult soil, and harsh conditions. Plant profiles include complete growing information, color photographs, and recommended companion plants. With this helpful guide in hand, it’s easier than ever to add shrubs to add to your home garden.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781604697674
Publisher: Timber Press, Incorporated
Publication date: 02/05/2019
Pages: 300
Sales rank: 779,033
Product dimensions: 8.60(w) x 10.00(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Andy McIndoe is the former managing director of Hillier Nurseries and Garden Centers in Hampshire, England. As designer of the Hillier exhibit at the Chelsea Flower Show for more than two decades, he has upheld the company’s unprecedented record of 68 consecutive gold medals. He is now a freelance speaker, writer, and consultant. 

Read an Excerpt

Compiling this book has been interesting, rewarding, and often challenging. The obvious garden situations are the easiest to make recommendations for. Shade, sun, and acid soil are just some that are constantly asked about. Those of us who advise on gardens have our favourites for such conditions, and these are the first plants that spring to mind. However, I have tried to include as extensive a palette of shrubs as possible and avoid duplications, but it is surprising how the obvious contenders for one situation are the forerunners for the next. Thinking of alternatives is where the challenge begins.

I have tried to be definite in my recommendations. It would be easy to say “any potentilla will do,” but that leads to the question of which one. I’ve included my first choices in the shrub entries, and the reader can then choose alternatives. For example, I may recommend Potentilla fruticosa ‘Abbotswood’ in one situation and Potentilla fruticosa ‘Primrose Beauty’ in another. Unless I say otherwise, the two are really interchangeable. I have included them because they are both good plants.

I advise you to use my selections as a guide, but see what is available locally or from your usual source of plant material. Selections vary with nursery and country. If you can choose the plants personally, so much the better. It is preferable to have a good plant of a close substitute than a poor plant of your first choice. Many planting schemes are ruined by the inflexibility of the designer.

In most cases choosing the shrubs for each situation was easy and the selection could have been far more extensive; in other instances it was challenging. Some will undoubtedly question why I have not included shrubs that seem obvious choices to them. We all use a group of plants that are familiar to us, and I always recommend plants that I have some experience of. Also it is important to remember that all plants behave differently in different gardens. For example, I never recommend sarcococcas for pots and containers because I never have success with them. However I have met several gardeners who claim to have wonderful specimens that have thrived in pots for years. Similarly I usually find that Daphne odora has a lifespan of ten to fifteen years. Yet I have met gardeners who claim that theirs has been with them for more than thirty. Two things are certain: we all lose track of time and plants have not read the rule book.

The shrub descriptions include an indication of potential size. It will certainly depend on the growing conditions, and it can depend on the original specimen you plant, its condition, and possibly the clonal selection. Some cultivars vary considerably according to the clone being propagated and even where the cutting material is taken from on the parent plant. Some shrubs are multiplied by micropropagation and the offspring can appear slightly different from the parent even if they are genetically identical. Take a look at a batch of Pittosporum ‘Garnettii’ on a nursery bed and you will probably see variation in leaf size, shape, and growth habit, even though they are all true to type.

The subject of hardiness is perhaps the most difficult to be specific about. For gardeners in the UK, the Royal Horticultural Society’s hardiness ratings are a relatively recent introduction. They are perhaps more useful in the colder areas; those of us gardening in the warmer south pay little heed to them. Also we are an island and the warming effect of the sea is profound, even in the Far North. However, we get caught out by an unusually cold winter every few years. In North America zonal information is far more relevant. I have consulted as many sources as possible before stating these and they are an average, in some cases of widely varied opinions. This is not surprising as the microclimates in gardens vary so much. Urban areas are usually warmer. The presence of walls and buildings may mean more tender subjects survive. Exposure to cold winds or drainage of cold air down a slope can mean failure of a plant which should survive in that zone.

At the end of the day it is up to the gardener to determine the risk he or she wishes to take. We all like to push the boundaries; that is part of the fun of gardening.

I hope you find this book a useful companion when selecting shrubs. I also hope you find it inspirational and that it helps you to extend the palette of plants you use. If I may I would like to suggest keeping the following in mind:

Never reject those hardy familiar shrubs that are widely used: they are a great foundation and support for the desirable treasures which may or may not succeed.

Always consider foliage first and flowers second. Leaves last for longer and are the fabric of a planting scheme; flowers are fragile embroidery.

Always buy good-quality shrubs, plant them well, and look after them; they will reward year after year.

If a shrub fails to perform, does not please, or declines, remove it and plant something else. A space in a bed or border is a wonderful planting opportunity.

Happy gardening.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
A Few Good Reasons to Plant Your Garden with Shrubs   
Choosing the Right Shrub, Planting, and Care       
Assessing your situation
Planting: Give new shrubs the best possible start                
Care during establishment            
Shrubs for Challenging Growing Conditions           
Shade, including dry shade           
Exposed and coastal situations   
Wet and compacted soil, including clay and new construction      
Alkaline and chalk soils  
Acid soil: Moist and peaty, dry and sandy               
Hot and dry conditions, including prolonged drought        
Harsh winters    
Shrubs for Restricted Planting Spaces      
Pots and containers         
Small gardens    
Narrow beds and borders             
Steep slopes and banks 
Wall shrubs, alternatives to climbers        
Shrubs with Desirable Characteristics       
Architectural and dramatic foliage effects             
Fast movers for impact, screening, and shelter   
Shrubs grown as trees   
Long-blooming shrubs   
Shrubs with fragrant flowers       
Shrubs to attract wildlife               
Deer- and rabbit-resistant shrubs

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