Foliage, flowers and berries can all be achieved despite having a small area to play with. There are Conifers, Pines and Junipers which are slow growing but strictly speaking not dwarf. Thuja Teddy, Picea glauca conica and Juniperus green carpet. it’s more they stay smaller for longer. There are, however, compact shrubs that stay in this habit and need little pruning.
Skimmia japonica offers flowers, aroma and berries at different times of the year. Skimmia dislike full sun but too little, they can become leggy. The aspect should be slightly sheltered too. This shrub can be grown in a container and to do so would control the size. They do prefer a more acidic environment and so if necessary its habitat regulated.
Pieris japonica is another choice that can be containerised or planted in the ground. This shrub has interesting foliage that changes from red to pink to cream. It’s an evergreen so provides interest all year and in spring will bear cream flowers. The shrub is hardy but still needs a sheltered spot. It needs sun too. The soil must be on the acidic side and be well drained.
Acer palmatum or Japanese maple come in a variety of sizes. Some are small trees and some larger. A. palmatum ‘Ever Red Tree’ is a dwarf variety that is ideal for a pot or small area. It has a weeping habit and bears attractive leaves. The shrub doesn’t cope well in full sun so partial shade is better.
Azaleas/Rhododendrons come in a variety of sizes. These ornamental shrubs are related but still recognised in their own entiriety. The varieties you would choose would be those suited to rock gardens. R . ‘Percy wiseman’ a semi dwarf offering a pinkish display flowering in succession through a range of colours finishing with a creamy white. Equally, a true dwarf – R. Princess Ann flowering from mid to late spring offering yellow flowers. It will cope in full sun and withstand quite severe conditions.
Spirea is a decidious shrub that flowers in summer can be kept to a reduced size with little maintenance or care. It has an average growth but cutting it back each year will benefit the plant. It prefers a full sun to partial shade aspect but generally will cope. It is quite flexible on the soil it prefers, the aspect too, just that it dosen’t like sitting in water – most plants don’t though – so well drained.
Potentilla ‘Bella Bellisima’ (Pink) or Bella ‘Sol’ (Orange) a small shrub requiring no maintenance at all other than a top snip after flowering. This is for aesthetics as much as a quick dead-head. Potentillas tolerate poor soil. All that they ask is than they have adequate sunlight and are in well drained soil.