Floral interest

An attractive bouquet of flowers are pleasing to receive, having a shrub giving continual flora for a period is a breathtaking sight. Plants provide you with colour all season long, flowers in such profusion. The plants blooms are their saving grace.

Magnolia soulangeana is a shrub that offers tulip shaped flowers fusing a number of colours together (pink, white and purple). It is scented, not hugely though. It flowers in spring, and can sometimes cusp over to summer. The plant is reasonably quick to establish but will keep its shape relatively well without much maintenance. The plant can cope with drought conditions although excessive light can damage flowers and leaves. The base needs a degree of protection, so a layer of bark, mulch or any organic matter will help retain its moisture and provide shade.

Magnolia stellata – the flowers couldn’t be more different but equally as eyecatching as soulangeana. The plant bears white, star-like, highly scented flowers. It is a hardy large shrub/small tree and its flowers appear before leaves like soulangeana. It prefers a sheltered spot due to the damage cold winds can cause. Therefore, a warmer aspect is advisable.

Azaleas are an acid loving shrub that flower in such profusion late spring into early summer. If in warmer climes – in extreme conditions all through summer. A number are scented but it’s the colour that makes them memorable. The plant is related to the Rhododendron.”You could say an Azalea is a Rhododendron but a Rhododendron is not an Azalea”. If you work that? It refers to an unresolved debate.

For Camellia, a dappled, partially shaded area is ideal. The plant is easily burnt by direct sun. C. sasanqua is the group that flower in autumn and usually more susceptible to winter damage. This kind tends not to be as hardy and requires some protection. The japonica’s and x williamsii are spring flowering, although the plant prefers some shade, if the base of the shrub is in shade the plant can tolerate being in direct sunlight.

A mountain shrub, they are resilient but do encounter problems. The browning of leaves, a discolouration and curling can be indicative of a fungal infection/scaley bug (evidence of this on underside of leaf) caused by too much moisture. Good drainage can alleviate these problems and other disorders linked with saturation. No direct sunlight and free draining soil is a must.

Daphne Odora Aureomarginata is a heavily scented specimen which will provide fragrance and attractive foliage through spring (some species or year round). The soil is better on the chalky side, this being alkaline but provides you with a plethora of colour. It needs some shade but a sunny spot is desired to really thrive. The only maintenance really is to retain shape.

Hydgrangeas make marvellous cut flowers. Pink, blue and some are white. The oak leafed (Hydgrangea quercifolia) is more resilient and perhaps more attractive in its foliage, good in drier conditions and more robust than the typical variety. If you leave them later than after they have flowered, you might think of spring to give them a crop. It takes some of the buds away but the plant will thank you. It won’t get woody and regenerate new growth. Cut all non – generative growth out or stems that appear to have no life before and after blooms.

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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"?