Whilst we enjoy the scent and colour of our spring, summer and autumn shows, it is worth considering the benefits certain shrubs have in encouraging bio diversity and providing insects with essential food.
Buddleja (Butterfly Bush) A woody shrub that needs quite hard pruning to keep its growth vigorous. In spring, it needs to be taken down to 2 or 3 leaf nodes and it will benefit hugely.
Philadelphus (Mock Orange) A scented shrub providing white flowers and attractive foliage in summer through to autumn. It is drought tolerant and very resilient in quite harsh conditions. However, it loses its leaves and is non descript at other times of the year.
Choisya (Mexican Orange Blossom) is popular in urban areas since it absorbs pollution. It doesn’t require any pruning per se and provides fragrant flowers. It does need some shelter and not suited to exposed sites. Early summer is the time it flowers, however, the leaves are attractive in themselves and its an evergreen.
Skimmia japonica offers fragrant leaves and white flowers in mid spring and berries in winter so a very beneficial shrub. Skimmias do not sit well in full sun. The more shade the better. The shrubs are drought tolerant and require almost no maintenance. The soil need not be humus rich. Their nutritional needs are low.
Potentillas are certain to attract wildlife and you have the added benefit of the lasting blooms. The shrub prefers full sun but a little shade helps the plant not over exert itself – it flowers for longer. it like most plants prefers a good soil but will tolerate poorer quality as long as it’s well drained.
Virburnums are a reliable choice too due to the fact that some can flower in winter through till spring and some even throughout summer. A hardy shrub of an informal habit will provide berries in the dormant months and highly scented pink and white flowers. A straightforward shrub that requires little maintenance save a clip here or there. It generally adapts to most soils as long as its free draining. It does well in sun but will tolerate some shade.