Six on Saturday: 4.5.19 Flowering shrubs

This week I’m looking at a handful of flowering shrubs. The vast majority of the shrubs in the garden are Spring flowering with the notable exception of the hydrangeas. The camellias have already featured in previous weeks. So here we have a handful of the remaining shrubs. While not as showy as last weeks tulips they bring a lot to the garden. The vast majority are minimal effort, supress weeds and many good evergreen options for year round interest. Several articles have stated shrubs are going to be trending this year. While I don’t particularly follow trends I am happy to see the RHS predicting ferns as their pick of the trends. If nothing else it may give me easier access to further ferns I want.

1. Korean Dwarf Lilac

This small shrub I believe is a Korean dwarf lilac. It isn’t necessarily a plant that instantly grabs your attention with its small red-edged leaves. But it is coming into flower now and it smells wonderful. It is close to the house giving you that lilac smell so you can be starting at the larger lilac plant and the bottom of the garden and be conned into thinking you are getting the smell from it. A variety of this shrub won an award for scent on Great British Garden revivals where Toby Buckland pushed bringing back scent to our gardens.

Sadly though it is blocking line of sight from the new extension room to the lawn and we want a clear view to see Alice playing. So I am going to try to move it. As a fail-safe, I am also going to try and take cuttings. If I can move this to an area where it doesn’t need pruning too much each year that will also hopefully give it more chance to flower. Some years I’ve had second bursts of flowers in late Summer/Autumn.

2. Choisya ternata

Choisya or Mexican orange sits at the corner of one border on the edge of the patio currently surrounded by builders rubbish. It is an evergreen shrub that is just about hardy enough to come through our winters still looking good. Last year damaged it, but that was a particularly cold year and it did recover. This gives a couple of weeks worth of strongly scented flowers. The smell is supposed to smell like orange blossom. However, as I don’t know what orange blossom smells like I can’t comment. I do know the scent can be a bit divisive. There is a wonderful yellow rose growing in the centre of this. Later in the year, it rises out of this giving large yellow flames before fading to buttery creamy blooms.

3. Rhododendrum

The rhododendron came in a pot with my last house. It has been repotted since and pruned heavily. It gives a couple of weeks of beautiful blooms and then is a bit of an eyesore the rest of the year. My mum wants to take custody of it and once it’s stopped flowering she is welcome to it. I think it probably needs to go into the ground and I haven’t got a space I want to put it in.

The bees are currently enjoying the large open blooms.

As you can see the leaves suffer. I don’t know if it is the hardiness or the sea breezes but it isn’t happy.

4. Evergreen shrub

I’m unsure of what this one is. It fills a space in front of the shed. It gives a dark evergreen backdrop to other plants and partially hides the shed. It has spires of little white flowers in Spring and doesn’t object to being pruned back after flowering each year. It comes back and is rounding out nicely for the pruning. It isn’t flashy but it gives shade to my treasured fern corner, the flowers are loved by a number of insects and it gives year-round greenery. Another workhorse in the garden.

5. Clematis Montana

This isn’t actually mine it is my neighbours but it coming over solidly onto my side now. I’m assuming it is Montana from its rapid growth and flowers. There is an abundance of flowers this year. It is now growing down into my climbing rose Scarlett Paul. Hopefully, they’ll intertwine nicely and then I’ll have a succession of blooms. If it reaches the ground on my side I’ll see about layering it into the ground or I may take cuttings. The cordyline underneath is just there while building work continues then the pot will be moved back to the patio.

6. Saxifrage White pixie

Moving away from the flowering shrubs I bought a couple of new saxifrage plants as I seem to be lacking previously planted ones. They are beloved by the bees and sometimes the butterflies will settle on them too. These white pixie varieties give a pleasant little dome with spires of tiny white flowers adding to the pollinator options as I try for seasonal spread to keep them satisfied.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this weeks six. I’m going to read up on clematis. I’ve got a Wisley charity shop bargain to read on the subject. See if I can get more out of my own clematis or take cuttings from my neighbours. Check the guide if you fancy taking part in the six on Saturday guide. Enjoy your weekends!

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19 thoughts on “Six on Saturday: 4.5.19 Flowering shrubs”

    1. It’s a nice shrub. Scent is wonderful for the weeks it flowers and the small leaves are quite an attractive colour and the leaf size is a nice contrast to its neighbours. Not as showy as the hydrangea next to it but a good structural plant for much of the year.

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  1. When we moved into our house over 18 years ago, the garden was nothing but huge shrubs! I took a year to remove the majority of them but have kept a few that have proved their worth. However, I am sure you are keeping yours in check! That saxiphrage reminds me, I must get some more and make sure the perennial geranium doesn’t smother it!! Interesting Six.

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    1. Yes need a balance between shrubs and actual border. I reckon I’ve probably got one or two too many but a few are coming out with the building work we’re having done and then I reckon it’ll look more balanced. Though I quite fancy one more small tree to replace two of the shrubs coming out but then I can still plant in the understory.

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  2. I would think you’re right about the Rhododendron needing to go in the ground, it’s hard to keep them evenly moist in a pot and it may well be hungry too. They suit a larger garden better. The evergreen shrub looks like one of the compact selections of cherry laurel.

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    1. The rhododendron did better the year I hard pruned it. It’s been fed heavily with a top layer of new compost the last few years, slow release and liquid ericaceous feed. It’s past the pot point.

      Cherry laurel looks spot on looking at google photos. Thank you.

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  3. That little pot of saxifrage is lovely. As to choisya, it’s the foliage that I love to sniff – very peppery to my nose. I love it that you may layer the clematis. How cool is that? Let us know what you decide & how successful it is.

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    1. Cheers for the info. Fairly confident how to do it but can’t really do it until building work is done and then it’ll probably be the wrong time of year. May prune it back hard for now then move in Autumn.

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  4. I’ve tended to prune the dwarf lilac immediately after flowering to keep it compact but it sounds like I’m missing out on a second flush of flowers later on by doing this. I moved mine in January and it was fine, though it isn’t that big (we bought it 6 years ago). The saxifrage is lovely.

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  5. I see Jim has already beaten me to IDing the cherry laurel. I hope it is a compact one because they can get very big! I used to have a lot of spring flowering shrubs in my old garden in Doncaster. Kept small they can be lovely and create a background for other flowers in the summer months. After many years though I was starting to have to remove them as they outgrew the space (it was a small garden).

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    1. There are a couple of giant laurel beasts growing on round abouts near me so I know they can become much larger than I want. But it doesn’t seem to object to being cut by half each year. My wife doesn’t care for it but I actually quite like it. It is hardy stays looking dark green, blocks a bit of sight to the shed and gives the ferns and heucheras the shade they want. In a few years though I’m going to have to make tough decisions as both of the two trees can grow to 20-30 foot. Previous owner didn’t make sensible choices for the size of the garden. A black cherry and a whitebeam so I’m going to have to see how pruning goes but I want to start off a few more smaller trees ready for if I need to remove the two existing trees. There lovely but could dwarf the garden.

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