An ideal method of planting would be to incorporate those flowering, providing foliage in your garden and needing no care at all. Right? Of course, only if you like them! With careful planting, you can achieve an amass of colour throughout most of the year with little pruning and no special time to do it.
Weigela is a shrub that seems to becoming popular again. It loses its leaves in winter but provides an abundance of colour in the summer months. The more sun it gets – the more flowers you’ll have, but it will cope in partial shade. Pruning is needed to retain shape but it accepts minimal interference. It will need to be cut back to a bud or leaf node after flowering. This will be off last years growth. No other care is needed.
Cistus – an evergreen which flowers so much you never notice the petals are spent. A plant which is good in poor soil. It prefers a full sun aspect (as in it’s name – sun rose, rock rose) and can cope with dry conditions. They are stable in adverse conditions (toughened to the elements), although protection in cold and exposed areas is advisable. No pruning is necessary since if the growth gets too woody, it is better to remove and replace. The growth ceases to regenerate in its normal fashion.
Potentilla will come in many colours (oranges, whites, reds, pinks and yellows) and flower in late spring to end of summer. The plant is low maintenance and generally trouble free. The pruning is only to keep the size down or a quick snip on top for aesthetics. If in doubt, prune plants after flowering when you want them to flower as normal the following year. Potentillas are fully hardy and need little care. As long as they are not in complete darkness, partial shade is fine. The plant is decidious and from autumn to spring they are dormant plants. The plant will tolerate poor soil and no nutrients. It will source its own. If anything it’s wild form can be found on damp cliff edges and embankments, waste sites or neglected areas.
Forsythia is a shrub that provides flowers followed by foliage in mid spring. The plant will thrive in full sun but can cope in partial shade. It can be used as a hedge although often it’s an upright shrub. It normally copes in most soils. The plant will need some maintenance but requires no technical expertise. It needs to be pruned only to retain its shape and size. Cut back to shape after flowering and remove some stems altogether from the base to encourage circulation and new growth. It can become invasive if ignored, so do keep it trim each year.
Junipers, both the ground cover and shrub variety can be left and will provide the foliage interest you were after. When they’re established they can withstand quite adverse conditions and tolerate a dry environment. Junipers are tolerant of most soil but need light – to deprive them of this will afflict their growth. Their shape will become distorted and cannot be reversed. There are several varieties growing from the ground cover – J. horizontalis to J. chinensis of small, large and upright tall.
Euonymous fortunei will provide you with a number of cultivars that can be adapted in your open space. ‘Emerald Gaiety’ a small busy shrub but can climb if trained by a wall. ‘Emerald n Gold’ a yellow and green variegated evergreen that will appear pinkish in the colder months. ‘Silver Queen’ a larger example. Its foliage slightly different. A cream and green variety wih a bushy habit but will have a pinkish tinge in winter. These shrubs, carpets and climbers (compact or mound forming) only need to be pruned to the desired shape. The variegated foliage should continue to regenerate in this form. If a solitary green shoot appears this needs to be cut out. It is the plant reverting to its original form before it was crossed.