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High performance shrubs

High performance shrub: Eucryphia nymansensis Nymansay

High performance shrubs are the most useful plants in a gardener’s armoury, as they provide high levels of interest – through structure, leaf and flower – during one or more seasons, while requiring little or nothing in the way of maintenance.

I specialise in creating plantings using these shrubs, which enhance the garden through the year.

By concentrating on varieties that develop into shapely specimens, and mixing evergreen and deciduous plants, such a planting need look nothing like the ‘Victorian shrubbery’ my clients tend to be keen to avoid**.

To give an example of four July and August flowering shrubs I grow in this category:

  • Aesculus parviflora – a large shrub to 2m. Copper emerging foliage in spring is succeeded by a mass of white candles of fine horse chestnut-type flowers in July, with excellent autumn colour;
  • Hydrangea aspera villosa - a dignified, quiet presence fills a large space before erupting in a mass of lacecap flowers in August;
  • Eucryphia nymansensis ‘Nymansay’ - develops into a tall evergreen column and is the glory of the August garden when covered in its large white flowers with prominent bosses of stamens;
  • Hoheria sexstylosa - a fast growing evergreen shrub from New Zealand, it is abuzz with insects in late summer when it is covered in highly-scented clusters of white star-shaped flowers.

** Others are averse to the ‘supermarket carpark’ look.