Did your garden lack a certain je ne sais quoi this summer? If you’re like many of my clients (who want a lovely garden, but have little time to do the gardening), then it might be a good idea to consider adding more flowering shrubs to your garden in time for next summer. With the autumn planting season looming, now is the time to plan! There are many great value, easy, flowering shrubs which you can include, but here are just 5 which (assuming you’re not gardening in extreme conditions) are definitely worth considering.
Philadelphus is a lovely shrub. Commonly known as the ‘Mock Orange’ it has really pretty white flowers and fabulous scent in early summer. Most Philadelphus are quite large so they need to be given space, but I often use a small variety called ‘Manteau d’Hermine’ which is great to position near paths and seating areas. Good in most soils and tolerant of dry soil, chalk and clay, it’s a tough cookie. The gold leaf variety Philadelphus Aureus is lovely for brightening up partially shady corners and in fact they will all tolerant at least some shade. Although not the most exciting of plants from a foliage point of view, they are fast-growing, the scent is fabulous and frankly, I think every garden should have at least one!
Another early summer white flowerer is Choisya ‘Aztec Pearl’. It’s a slower, smaller and slightly more refined version of Choisya ternata (in my opinion!), but the pay off is that it’s not quite as tough as ternata (it may suffer some leaf damage in heavy frost for example). Naturally growing into a rounded bushy shape and evergreen, it’s a great structural plant for sunny or partially shady borders and eventually reaches about 1.5m x 1.5m in size. Choisya often flower for a second time in September, which is a bonus (and – top tip – they look lovely with late-flowering Clematis twining through them). There’s also a gold-leaf variety of Choisya (‘Sundance’), but to my eye it always looks sick!
Syringa microphylla ‘Superba’ is one of my favourite shrubs. It’s not spectacularly showy, but it’s easy to grow and look after, and has a nice light airy shape and very pretty rosy pink flowers. Best in a sunny position, this shrubby lilac flowers mainly in May and then on and off until autumn and it has a lovely delicate scent. It’s quite a fast grower and on average it will get to about 1.5-2m high and wide. It’s such a good shrub that it’s been awarded a Royal Horticultural Society AGM (Award of Garden Merit).
Leycesteria Formosa (‘Himalayan Honeysuckle’ or ‘Pheasant Berry’) is another shrub with an AGM. It’s probably not best for small spaces as it’s quite a big (and vigorous) shrub. It’s not particularly exciting for much of the year but has very unusual flowers in late summer (hanging white flowers with deep red bracts). And although a deciduous shrub, when all the leaves have dropped it has very attractive green upright hollow stems which are reminiscent of bamboo. So it’s great for winter interest too. This is a good shrub for most soils and is perfect for the less formal areas of the garden (or woodland edge) where you want something fast-growing, easy and tolerant of some shade.
Now not everyone likes yellow, but if you do, Hypericum ‘Hidcote’ AGM could be just the ticket. It flowers for months over the summer and into autumn, and due to its dense habit is often planted en masse or as a flowering hedge. I personally think the ground cover Hypericum can be a bit of a nightmare as it’s a spreader that’s very difficult to get rid of. ‘Hidcote’ on the other hand is a well-behaved semi-evergreen shrub that’s great for cheering up drab areas with its lovely open yellow flowers. It’s tolerant of a wide-range of soil types and some shade, and the bees love it!
So take your pick, plant now and reap the benefits next summer!