Shrubs and climbers

Shrubs and climbers are an essential feature of a garden, providing a permanent framework around which the more temporary plants can be arranged.

Shrubs and woody climbers are long-lived and visible all year, so landscape gardeners often refer to them as the backbone of a garden’s planting scheme.

A shrub is a woody, multi-stemmed plant. It may have an erect, bushy, or low and spreading habit or require the support of a wall or trellis. Its foliage may be evergreen or deciduous, though some are semi-evergreen, retaining their foliage in mild winters.

Most shrubs and climbers are chosen for their flowers, but since they often flower for a relatively short period, consider their other merits: growth habit, foliage colour, shape and texture, and ornamental berries or fruit.

Species with an attractive shape – the smaller Japanese maples, for example – make excellent speci-men plants in isolated beds or large containers. Those with a less striking shape look better in groups or in mixed borders. Dense-growing types make excellent hedges, while those with a low-growing spreading habit are ideal ground cover.

Container-grown shrubs and climbers can be bought and planted at any time of year, although spring and autumn are preferable. Bare-root or root-balled shrubs are sold in spring and autumn and should be planted then.

Weeding and watering are important for the first growing season. Once fully grown, pruning is usually the main job. Tender species may need frost protection, mulching can be beneficial, and most climbers need support.

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