Your guide to shrubs

A garden wouldn’t be complete without shrubs, they’re the heart of your outdoor space. The low woody stems and leaves that come in every shape add a sculptural focal point to your garden design. Use them as hedging, a natural backdrop, or for a real talking point when they’re in full bloom. Shrubs are a real favourite of ours, so we have a huge variety to choose from and fresh stock throughout the year. Early flowering shrubs like magnolia, viburnum and forsythia are always popular, as they awaken your garden with that first early burst of colour we all love. Explore the different varieties, deciduous and evergreen, and let your garden take shape.

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Find out all you need to know about some of our favourite shrubs...

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Abelia

If you’re looking for a sweet-smelling flowering shrub, we recommend abelia. A member of the honeysuckle family, this lovely medium-sized shrub has a particularly long bloom time, making it a favourite among flower-loving gardeners and bees alike. The delicate pale pink/white flowers are a small trumpet shape and stand out against the plant’s mass of green leaves. It’s semi-evergreen in our climate, meaning it loses some or all of its leaves in Winter. A definite star of your summer garden – a best in bloom.

Location: full sun, partial shade

Soil: chalk, sand, loam

Size: up to 4.5m

Blooms: Early to Mid-Summer

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Astelia

You might know this wonderfully architectural plant as silver spear, named because of its elongated pointed leaves. Some produce flowers in the summer followed by orange berries, but it’s the striking low-growing clumps of silvery green foliage that are the main feature. The subtle colour and texture are what make it an eye-catching plant for your borders.

Location: full sun, partial shade

Soil: clay, loam

Size: up to 1.2m

Blooms: Summer

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Aucuba (aucuba japonica)

Also known as aucuba japonica, this large-sized shrub was introduced to the UK over 200 years ago. The aucuba is an evergreen plant with large glossy variegated leaves of green and golden yellow that create wonderful dense coverage. This makes it the perfect solution for hedging or wall and fence covering. The plants do produce flowers and small red berries, but these are generally eclipsed by the giant leaves. It’s worth noting that this shrub is toxic, so not suitable for a child-friendly garden.

Location: full sun, partial shade

Soil: chalk, loam, sand

Size: 0.5 - 1m

Blooms: Spring

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Berberis

Also know as barberry. There’s so much to love about this versatile and accommodating plant. It looks good in any garden with its cover of green leaves and mass of golden spring flowers that attract bees and butterflies. The prickly spikes hidden among its foliage makes it useful in many ways too. An easy way to introduce a wildlife haven to your garden.

Location: full sun, full shade

Soil: chalk, clay, sand, loam

Size: up to 3m

Blooms: Spring

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Buddleja

If you’d like to attract wildlife to your garden, buddleja is the perfect choice of shrub. Sometimes known as butterfly plant because of the nectar-rich flowers, it’s very popular with bees too. There are over 100 species and has flowers in a variety of shades of blues and whites, so it’s easy to find one to complement your garden colour scheme.

Location: full sun

Soil: chalk, clay, loam, sand

Size: 1 - 1.5m

Blooms: Summer to Autumn

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Choisya

The evergreen star of your garden. With its rounded spread of leaves and dazzling white, star-shaped flowers, this is one of our essential plants for a great garden. The common name Mexican orange blossom is a nod to the sensory appearance and perfume of this gorgeous plant. Place it beside a pathway or your favourite spot for relaxing on a sunny day, and you’ll be able to enjoy its drifting sweet scent.

Location: full sun

Soil: chalk, clay, loam, sand

Size: 1 - 1.5m

Blooms: Late Spring to Late Summer

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Cistus

Beautifully wild and delicate, the cistus, also known as the rock or sun rose, comes from the warm rocky landscapes of the Mediterranean. It’s a small but quick-growing evergreen shrub, making it a great little plant for most spots – try them next to other Mediterranean favourites for an authentic and natural flowerbed that looks the part. Plant for the mass of lovely leaves, but enjoy the lightly crinkled flowers in a stunning but fleeting show, each one only lasting a day.

Location: full sun, partial shade

Soil: chalk, clay, sand, loam

Size: up to 2.4m

Blooms: Spring to Early Summer

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Convolvulus

Perfect for a pot, the convolvulus shrub is a member of the bindweed family. The slender silvery green leaves create a fashionable focal point that look great placed with contrasting pots of colour in your patio area. The evergreen foliage is joined by pretty buds that bloom to reveal bold, trumpet-shaped flowers to put on even more of a show for your guests. It’s always ready for the garden party.

Location: full sun, partial shade

Soil: chalk, sand, loam

Size: up to 4m

Blooms: Summer to Early Autumn

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Cordyline

A fountain of arching burgundy red spears creates wonderful drama and an unmissable architectural structure for your garden. Also known as red star, we love the evergreen palm-like shape that takes your thoughts to far away lazy days the sun. It looks great in patio containers for an eye-catching feature or plant it out in the right conditions and see it reach impressive heights. Its Autumn berries are loved by starlings – so you can settle outside with a hot drink and see what you can spot.

Location: full sun, partial shade

Soil: chalk, clay, loam, sand

Size: 1-1.5m

Blooms: Summer

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Cotoneaster

A member of the rose family, rosaceae, that looks fantastic in every season. There’s a spread of tiny flowers in summer, an abundance of small berries in autumn and bushy green leaves. We think it is a fantastic way to hedge or screen your garden and seeing it change throughout the seasons.

Location: full sun, partial shade

Soil: chalk, clay, sand, loam

Size: up to 3m

Blooms: Late Spring to Summer

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Drimys

This intriguing and dense evergreen flowering shrub is full of character. Lush, dark green, waxy leaves grow from reddish brown stems. Off-white flowers and dark berries add to the interesting mix of colours you see throughout the year. The attractive formation of the leaves makes it a lovely one to add in your flowering borders.

Location: full sun, partial shade

Soil: chalk, clay, loam, sand

Size: up to 12m

Blooms: Summer

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English Lavender

Lavender is so popular at the moment, featuring in every garden trend. Arrange it in your cottage garden creation or Mediterranean herbaceous border. If you’ve built a bee or butterfly house, you could try planting lavender nearby to make them feel at home. The scented, silvery blue, narrow leaves and stems topped with cheerful bobbing heads of flowers are instant calm in any outside space. English Lavender is more hardy than French Lavender. French Lavender usually flowers earlier and for longer than English Lavender.

Location: full sun

Soil: chalk, clay, loam, sand

Size: 0.5-1m

Blooms: Summer

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Eucalyptus

If you’ve not heard of eucalyptus before, you might know it as a gum tree. Native to Australia, there are over 600 varieties in the genus. Its distinctive, fragrant, blue-green leaves come in different shapes, and like lavender you can hang and dry the stems to bring the beautiful outdoors to your interiors. Probably its most distinctive feature though is the peeling bark of the quick-growing trunk.

Location: full sun, partial shade

Soil: chalk, clay, sand, loam

Size: up to 21m

Blooms: Mid-Summer to Mid-Autumn

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Euonymus

There are many different varieties of flowering euonymus, both deciduous or evergreen and come in all shapes and colours. Tolerant of most conditions, it’s a reliable plant in those hard-to-grow spots in your garden. All you have to do is choose the variety that suits your design.

Location: full sun, partial shade

Soil: chalk, clay, loam, sand

Size: 1.5-2.5m

Blooms: Spring

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Fatsia japonica

You’ll get a distinct tropical vibe in your garden with this evergreen shrub. You might also know it as false castor oil plant. Give it a good spot in your garden and the large, glossy, lobed leaves will make a striking feature, spanning out in the space. Although the dramatic leaves are what draw you in, it also blooms with delicate, globe-shaped flowers and produces small black fruit. It’s low-maintenance and tolerant of shade, so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding the perfect place for your fatsia japonica to grow.

Location: full sun, partial shade

Soil: chalk, clay, loam, sand

Size: 1.5-2.5m

Blooms: Autumn

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Fuchsia

This vibrant long-flowering plant adds an exotic feel to your garden. The lovely bushy foliage creates a lush backdrop for the distinctive flowers. Unique bell-shaped, two-tone petals and long stamens hang suspended from delicate stems, to create an uplifting shower of colour. These lovely pink, red, burgundy and white shrubs can bring colour to your outdoor space.

Location: full sun, partial shade

Soil: chalk, clay, loam, sand

Size: 0.1-0.5m

Blooms: Early Summer to Early Autumn

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Griselinia

The wonderfully dense and fresh green leaves of this lovely upright evergreen are what make griselinia so popular for hedging. With fast-growing, small oval leaves, you can shape it to fit your outdoor space perfectly – and without needing much maintenance either. The vivid greens are joined by tiny, yellow flowers in summer, adding to its vibrant appearance. Also known as New Zealand broadleaf, it’s a hardy plant that will withstand most conditions and weather that’s thrown at it, although you may need to protect it if temperatures drop too low. We can’t think of a better way to frame your plot.

Location: full sun

Soil: chalk, clay, loam, sand

Size: up to 8m

Blooms: Spring

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Hebe

A glorious long-flowering, evergreen shrub, Hebe is named after the Greek goddess of youth. With around 90 species, as you can imagine, it comes in a wonderful variety of shapes, sizes, and colours. Whether you’re looking for a rich green backdrop or a show of variegated leaves, you’ll be able to find one to fit your scheme. The spiked flowers of beautiful blooms fill the plant with character – an interesting garden guest.

Location: full sun, partial shade

Soil: chalk, clay, loam, sand

Size: 0.1 - 0.5m

Blooms: Early Autumn to Early Summer

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Holly

This iconic evergreen shrub, although very familiar, is a genus of around 480 species. The green glossy leaves are famous for their curled spikey shape, which while beautiful need to be treated with care – and a good pair of gardening gloves! It’s this protection that makes it an ideal nesting spot for birds. The famous red berries decorate the holly bush all through winter – a natural Christmas decoration and food for the birds too. You could even chop a branch to hang in your window.

Location: full sun, partial shade

Soil: chalk, clay, loam, sand

Size: up to 12m

Blooms: Spring to Summer

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Hydrangea

Hello hydrangea. We love this plant and so do most people – it’s hard to find a garden that doesn’t have a variety or two. This elaborate shrub is always centre stage. When it comes to hydrangeas, there are so many attractive varieties to choose from, including macrophylla, paniculata and lace caps. As well as impressive climbing varieties with fragrant flowering vines – perfect for fences and trellises.

Location: full sun, partial shade

Soil: chalk, clay, loam, sand

Size: 1.5 - 2.5m 

Blooms: Late Summer to Autumn

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Lophomyrtus

This stunning, evergreen shrub can add a splash of vibrant colour to the tiniest spaces as well as make an impact in larger gardens. A mass of dainty little colourful, variegated leaves creates a wonderfully textured and bushy shape. It makes a stunning hedge, bringing colour to your borders all year round. We love seeing it planted in pots to give a patio area an interesting feature that you can move around to suit the seasons.

Location: partial shade

Soil: chalk, clay, loam, sand

Size: up to 2.5m

Blooms: Summer

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Myrtus

You can give your outdoor space a real Mediterranean feel with this compact evergreen shrub. Also known as myrtle, there are thousands of known species. The scented foliage and sweet flowers add real sensory impact to your space, perfect for those summer days relaxing in the sun. The long stamens create a soft spherical shape that stand out against the deep green leaves, making them a really pretty addition to your patio.

Location: full sun

Soil: chalk, clay, loam, sand

Size: up to 2.5m

Blooms: Summer to Autumn

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Photinia

Red robin is one of the most popular varieties of photinia. This characterful evergreen shrub makes a lovely background plant in most spots or can be used as eye-catching hedging. Its large glossy leaves change from a rich red to dark green as they mature. It’s pretty tough and is happy to be trimmed, so you can keep it in check with your garden.

Location: full sun, partial shade

Soil: clay, loam, sand

Size: 2 - 4m

Blooms: Spring

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Pittosporum

This versatile evergreen plant is a genus of over 200 species. It comes in all shapes, sizes, and coloured leaves, from deep purples to bright greens and variegated leaves with flashes of pink to really make a statement. It’s fast-growing and pretty reliable, making it a sure bet if you’re less green-fingered. You’ll find it everywhere from hedgerows and standalone pots to flower arrangements.

Location: full sun

Soil: clay, loam, sand

Size: 0.5 - 1m

Blooms: Late Spring to Early Summer

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Santolina

Also known as lavender cotton, Give your cottage garden and herb-filled borders a cheery lift with this small shrub. The dense fragrant silvery grey foliage is perfect for bordering paths or in pots dotted around your outdoor dining area. Santolina comes to life with squat globe-like flowers of colour swaying on stems and attracting lovely pollinators such as bees.

Location: full sun

Soil: chalk, loam, sand

Size: up to 0.5m

Blooms: Summer

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Spiraea

A lovely deciduous shrub that’s easy to grow whatever space you have. In winter spiraea looks bare, but that just makes it all the more delightful when the simple bright green leaves start budding in spring. There are around 100 species falling into two categories – spring and summer. Spring flowering plants enjoy cascading panicles of delicate flowers, while summer varieties have a more upright form. Both create a stunning show, so place them somewhere you can enjoy the spectacle.

Location: full sun, partial shade

Soil: clay, loam, sand

Size: 1.5 - 2.5m

Blooms: Spring and Summer

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