Buxus Sempervirens:

Ensure that the soil or compost is never allowed to dry out. Trim plants grown as hedges or topiary in mid- or late summer. If you want to maintain a really precise outline, then you can clip it twice a year – once in June, and then again in August/September.

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Rhododendron caucasicum Germania

Very striking flowers! The rhododendron ‘Germania’ stands out in the garden or on the balcony. The spectacular flowers are dark pink with lighter-coloured flower centres. The flowers bloom in the spring.

Put the plant in a flowerpot, balcony planter or the ground immediately upon receipt. The rhododendron loves acidic, humus-rich soil. Place the rhododendron in partial or full shade. Ensure that the root ball is moist. Water the plant immediately after planting. Give it extra water during dry periods.

Half-shadow, shadow

Flowers April – May, green leaves all year

Spiraea arguta

  • Position: full sun
  • Soil: fertile, moist, well-drained soil
  • Rate of growth: average to fast
  • Flowering period: April to May
  • Hardiness: fully hardy

Gorgeous arching sprays of white flowers in mid and late spring and toothed, bright green leaves. This popular, deciduous shrub is ideal for a sunny, well-drained shrub or mixed border. Relatively vigorous and easy to grow, to guarantee an abundant, foam-like display it must be pruned annually immediately after flowering.

Garden care: Immediately after flowering prune flowered shoots to strong buds. On mature specimens cut back a quarter to a fifth of the old shoots to the base.

Mahonia Aquilfolium

  • Position: full or partial shade
  • Soil: moderately fertile, humus-rich, moist, well-drained soil
  • Rate of growth: average
  • Flowering period: March to April
  • Hardiness: fully hardy

Providing year-round interest with its glossy green leaves, this handsome shrub also offers a bright splash of colour in spring, when the clusters of yellow flowers appear. Later, blue-black berries provide yet another decorative feature. A compact Oregon grape, it has a suckering habit, so forms a spreading dome that is useful for adding interest to a woodland floor or shady border. The leaves have a spiny edge, so they are great for deterring burglars (or unwanted animals), and they often take on a purplish flush in winter.

Garden care: Every second year after flowering prune specimens grown as groundcover to just above ground level to encourage bushy growth and apply a generous 5-7cm (2-3in) mulch of well-rotted garden compost or manure around the base of the plant.

Variegatum

  • Position: full sun or partial shade
  • Soil: fertile, moist, well-drained soil
  • Rate of growth: fast-growing
  • Flowering period: May to June
  • Hardiness: frost hardy (may need winter protection)

Prized for its striking, dark grey or black young stems clothed with distinctive, wavy, small grey-green leaves edged with cream, this large, bushy, evergreen shrub or small tree forms a natural oval. It makes a lovely backdrop to a sunny, well-drained border and responds well to light clipping into a more formal shape. An excellent plant for warm coastal areas, where it can successfully be grown as an attractive, variegated windbreak or hedge.

Garden care: Requires minimal pruning. To thin or reduce growth prune mid-spring and apply a generous 5-7cm (2-3in) mulch of well-rotted garden compost or manure around the base of the plant.

Pieris Forest Flame

  • Position: full sun or partial shade
  • Soil: humus-rich, moist, well-drained acid soil or ericaceous compost
  • Rate of growth: slow-growing
  • Flowering period: April to May
  • Hardiness: frost hardy (will need winter protection)

Glossy, brilliant red young leaves gradually turn pink, creamy white, then dark green. In late spring, clusters of pretty, ivory, nodding bell-like flowers appear, resembling lily-of-the-valley. The fiery red young foliage of this upright evergreen shrub will add a splash of vivid colour to a shady shrub border or woodland edge. One of the best varieties, this pieris needs a moist, well-drained acid soil and shade from morning sun.

Photina Red Robin

  • Position: full sun or partial shade
  • Soil: most fertile, well-drained soils
  • Rate of growth: average to fast-growing
  • Flowering period: April to May
  • Hardiness: frost hardy (needs winter protection)

With its parrot-red, glossy young foliage, and large, rounded heads of ivory flowers, this versatile evergreen shrub is deservedly popular. It colours up best in full sun, and will usually only flower in sunny conditions, although it makes a handsome background evergreen shrub in partial shade, too. It can cope with hard pruning, so can be trimmed to form an informal hedge or clipped into strong shapes. The flowers appear in mid and late spring, and are sometimes followed by spherical red fruit. In frost-prone areas, train as a wall shrub against a south or west-facing wall.

Garden care: To encourage a profusion of bright young leaves in late spring or summer shorten the stems of established specimens by up to 15cm (6in), to just above an outward-facing bud. Apply a generous 5-7cm (2-3in) mulch of well-rotted garden compost or manure around the base of the plant in early spring.

Pittosporum Tenufolium / Tom Thumb

  • Position: full sun
  • Soil: fertile, moist, well-drained soil
  • Rate of growth: average
  • Flowering period: May to June
  • Hardiness: frost hardy (needs winter protection in cold areas)

When grown in full sun, this compact, evergreen shrub has small, wavy, dark purple leaves and striking, dark grey or black young stems. With its distinctive rounded shape, and pretty leaves, which will turn green in shadier conditions, it will give all-year foliage interest in a sunny, well-drained mixed border. Try it as a punctuation point in a gravel garden, or with strappy phormiums for formal contrast. While it sometimes produces honey-scented, dark purple flowers in late spring and early summer, it’s not a reliable flowerer. Protect from cold, drying winds.

Garden care: Requires minimal pruning. To thin or reduce growth prune mid-spring and apply a generous 5-7cm (2-3in) mulch of well-rotted garden compost or manure around the base of the plant.

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