Special Features

Plants can possess a number of traits that makes them popular and widely incorporated in planting. Below are a selection that used often for a particular asset.

Flowers

Kalmia augustiflora – It bears summer flowers in full sun. An acid loving evergreen. It does prefer some moisture so will not tolerate drought conditions. It can get leggy, similar to Rhododendrons and seems to develop in this way. Cutting it back harshly will regenerate its vigour.
Azaleas too can grow beautifully in acidic soil and do prefer a partial shade since they can get burnt. It is important to trim back to existing buds when spent or before the end of July/August, this will create other buds. Azaleas are related to Rhododendrons so they too have a tendency to get leggy from inside. Camellia’s survive in this environment and are appreciated for their double and single blooms. They can be species offering flowers at spring and autumn. The main needs would be space, no competition for moisture and nutrients. Camellia’s like some shelter but also a degree of sun, sometimes can sit in over watered areas if need be. I think once in situ and established though do not tolerate being moved. Some Virburnum will display a yield of berries in autumn. While,  v. japonica will give you the summer white flowers, the deciduous varieiy will give a show autumn to spring like ‘bodnantense’ dawn later on.

Scented

Philadelphus (Mock Orange) has citrus scented white flowers. A spring to summer flowering shrub.  It is versatile and adapts to all aspects, soils, and ph levels but cannot abide sitting in waterlogged soil. Prune after flowering quite low to a bulging bud and it will regenerate twice fold. Daphne odora ‘aurea-marginata’ – a fragrant evergreen producing attractive leaves and pink flowers. It has a compact habit and keeps itself relatively neat with only removal of unwanted growth.  Prune after flowering taking crossing branches providing space for new shoots. Any damaged or diseased too. This cultivar is hardier than some specimens. Syringa (Lilac) – a highly scented shrub/tree. Lilacs like full sun but not all the time. A little shade is welcome and in well drained soil. Choosing the dwarf variety guarantees you get a shrub and a neat, compact habit.  Syringa pubescens ‘Miss Kim’ pale pink to white will give you a compact shrub as will another smaller variety, syringa meyeri ‘palibin’ suited to containers, patios, terraces or borders. These are dwarf but they will thicken out and are chosen for their neat habit.

Foliage

Elaegnus pungens or ebbingei ‘Limelight’ a brightly variegated shrub, it has a non-variegated counterpart. Good in all aspects like full sun, partial, soil type and moisture tolerant. Gives white scented flowers in autumn. Hosts an interesting opaque leaf variegated or green. Euonymous fortuneii is a really versatile border shrub that can sit on its own or in a plant combination. Euonymous has striking variegated specimens – ‘Emerald n Gold, ‘Emerald Gaiety’, ‘Dan’s Delight’ are all cultivars with added interest. A trim to maintain a bushy habit is the only maintenance necessary or if the plant is reverting to its original form and you wish to keep the variegation. Laurus nobilis ‘bay’ – attractive highly aromatic leaves. Often misunderstood as a large shrub, is infact a tree and has the potential to grow to 12m (40ft) if given the chance. It prefers to be in the sun in well drained soil. It is semi hardy but in colder climes good to provide additional shelter from the wind and frost. Photinia x fraseri ‘Red robin’ a free standing shrub or unconventional hedge, pruning will make it more dense. Pieris ‘forest flame’ bell shaped flowers in spring. An evergreen. The colour of the leaves will change from red and mature to green. No pruning necessary – just cut out straggly bits. Prunus lusitanica – Portuguese laurel has attractive foliage in the autumn but bears flowers in spring.

Habitat/Beneficial birds/Insects

Empetrum nigrum (Crowberry) An effective ground cover. They are for human consumption but not generally known as an edible berry. Good in shaded spots and with other acid loving plants. A hardy evergreen providing berries. Pyracantha has a show of white flowers in summer and usually successful in well drained soil free standing, against a wall or trellis. It is great for bees in the summer and birds/wildlife in the winter. It needs little maintenance but for its thorns, when it does it can be a pain. Prunus spinosa (Blackthorn) is a winter hedging plant but provides us with white flowers in spring, foliage as a food source for butterflies and moths, berries for hibernating mammals and birds. Crataegus (Hawthorn) offers food and shelter for birds and wildlife, insects are drawn in the flowering period mid spring. Unfortunately hawthorn is widely used as a hedge and often clipped before the heavily scented flowers bloom to their maximum.

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I'm Craft Gardener with several years experience. Due to the massive impact the internet has had on advice, forums and consultancy services - it seems knowledge and experience is everchanging and we should therefore share techniques and offer others alternative routes in pests, diseases and weed treatments. The very smallest alterations in aspect, soil conditioning and pruning can determine a plants vigour, health and lifespan hugely. My blogs and online assistance should motivate and interest even the most amateur of green fingered people. As my ex partner used to say "it's green isn't it"?