Gardening with Shrubs

Books For Christmas 2014

There are not many books around that will actually teach you to use shrubs effectively in your garden. Too many shrub books are written by experts and focus on the plants at the expense of design; how many magnolias, rhododendrons or Judas trees can the average person fit into their home garden? In my case possibly one of each; and although their flowers might be magnificent, the plants need to earn their keep all year round to justify a space in a small garden.

Writers such as Beth Chatto and Christopher Lloyd have given us a lot of good advice particularly in their explanations of how they have set about combining shrubs into their planting schemes. Some of the most useful books specifically on gardening with shrubs I have read are by Andy McIndoe. His “The Hillier Gardener’s Guides – Shrubs” and the new “The Creative Shrub Garden” focus on the latest assortment of good shrubs to use in gardens of all sizes. His experience shines through and this is where you will find the very best recommendations of which species and cultivars you need to create your schemes. His ideas on combinations with other types of plants are also very well considered.

andyFrustrated by the lack of good design guidance I set about formulating my own ideas based upon trials in my garden and extensive reading of everything I could find. The result was the publication of Shrub Features as an eBook earlier this year. To date reactions to my efforts have been positive, but many find it a challenge not to be presented with a book filled with pretty pictures.

Shrub Feature BorderTo focus attention on my ideas I have only used simple sketches and drawings to show how shrubs might be placed in garden designs. Also, one of the greatest challenges I find in using shrubs is estimating how large they will eventually grow. To illustrate the size, the shape and the textures of the shrubs I know and grow, I have attempted to sketch their sihouettes as they near maturity.

Recommended Shrub FeaturesMy ideas are still evolving on gardening with shrubs and not everyone will agree with everything I have written, but, hopefully, it will make some gardeners think, and stimulate a more original approach to the use of this very important group of garden plants.

Happy Christmas reading.