Our mission is to share the wonders of the natural world by publishing books from experts in the fields of gardening, horticulture, and natural history. Grow with us.

Create a mood with The Creative Shrub Garden: Warm and relaxing

by Timber Press on September 25, 2014

in Design

A seat by the lake or a rowboat: either could be the perfect place to relax and enjoy the garden on a warm afternoon.

A seat by the lake or a rowboat: either could be the perfect place to relax and enjoy the garden on a warm afternoon.

You can find more creative shrub mood schemes in Andy McIndoe’s new book, The Creative Shrub Garden.

The colours in this scheme recall a warm summer’s afternoon in the garden. They are easy-to-live-with shades that create a relaxed and dreamy mood in the planting. These are the subtle hues that many of us are drawn to in fashion and in our homes. They convey an aura of comfort and security. They are slightly sleepy and never stimulating and exciting, but also never boring.

The sweet and familiar character of these colours is echoed in the foliage and the fragrance of the flowers. Some depth of colour, in the form of wine purple foliage and flowers, accentuates the lightness of other subjects in the scheme. Flower heads composed of tiny individual blooms add a lacy effect to the planting.

Where would this scheme work?

These colours suit an open, sunny position. Although they are still softly pleasing in the low light of morning and evening, they are at their best bathed in sunlight. They work well in a large or a small space, and they blend easily with the surroundings when used in country gardens. These shades have an air of casual informality and suit naturalistic gardens. They work well alongside a fresh green lawn and have a softening effect alongside paving and in gravel.

The basic combination

Of the three shrubs in the basic combination, only the lavender retains foliage in winter, but the cornus has dark red stems for winter colour and the berberis has a very long season of interest. For more evergreen content, you could add Hebe ‘Red Edge’ to the planting.

Although you could grow some of these subjects in pots, this planting is designed for the open ground. All the plants will succeed on any reasonably fertile, well-drained soil. I would plant them at least 75cm (30 in.) apart. For greater impact, you could plant the lavender as a group of three plants 30cm (1 ft.) apart.

My starting point is Lavandula pedunculata subsp. pedunculata, butterfly lavender. This plant captures the essence of the mood with its menthol-and-lavender-scented foliage with a hint of warm eucalyptus. The lilac-blue flowers with delicate wings are the spirit of a warm summer’s day. The shrub starts to flower in early summer and has a long season.

Lavandula pedunculata subsp. pedunculata

Lavandula pedunculata subsp. pedunculata

Berberis thunbergii f. atropurpurea ‘Rose Glow’ has wonderful warmth with wine purple leaves and pink suffused tips to the shoots. When partnered with pink flowers, these blend seamlessly with other subjects in the planting. This rich foliage colour accentuates the paler shades of the planting partners.

Berberis thunbergii f. atropurpurea ‘Rose Glow’

Berberis thunbergii f. atropurpurea ‘Rose Glow’

Cornus alba ‘Sibirica Variegata’ is compact and hard working, but also light, delicate, and a changing part of the picture through the year. It has red stems in winter and delicate green-and-white variegated leaves in spring, it becomes tinged with pink in summer, and in fall it turns pink-purple studded with white berries.

Cornus alba ‘Sibirica Variegata’

Cornus alba ‘Sibirica Variegata’

The three subjects work together to create a pleasing and varied picture throughout the year.

Expanding the scheme

If you prefer a flowering subject, you could substitute the hydrangea in these additions for the cornus in the basic combination. It will work beautifully alongside the berberis, but will lack the winter interest.

Hydrangea arborescens Invincibell Spirit blooms throughout summer, with lacy flower heads the colour of crushed strawberries against soft green leaves. Unlike some Hydrangea arborescens varieties, this one is more upright and will not flop over its neighbours.

Hydrangea arborescens Invincibell Spirit

Hydrangea arborescens Invincibell Spirit

Ceanothus ×delileanus ‘Gloire de Versailles’ has a charming, light, gently arching habit, with lovely open flower heads of soft sky blue. It flowers in summer and again in fall, adding the magic of summer skies to the scheme for long periods.

Ceanothus ×delileanus ‘Gloire de Versailles’

Ceanothus ×delileanus ‘Gloire de Versailles’

Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Elizabeth’ has a softer, lighter character than many evergreens, with its shining gently waved, green-and-white variegated leaves that blush pink toward the margins. In summer it picks up the colour of the cornus and maintains it during winter.

Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Elizabeth’

Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Elizabeth’

In a large garden

My choices for a larger garden are medium in stature. You can substitute them for any of the additions in the previous selection.

Philadelphus ‘Belle Etoile’ may flower only once, but when it does the sweet orange fragrance of its single flowers will fill the garden. No scent captures the relaxed warmth of the summer garden like this one. The deep maroon blotches at the base of the warm white petals pick up the purple foliage of the berberis.

Philadelphus ‘Belle Etoile’

Philadelphus ‘Belle Etoile’

No summer garden is complete without the beauty and scent of a rose. Rosa ‘Cornelia’ is a lovely hybrid musk rose with sprays of strawberry pink flowers flushed gold in the heart of each bloom. The fragrance is hauntingly beautiful throughout the day, and this variety repeats, so you can enjoy it through summer and fall.

Rosa ‘Cornelia’

Rosa ‘Cornelia’

Bulbs & perennials

In spring the silky purple-black blooms of Tulipa ‘Queen of Night’ are a soothing feature in any garden filled with vibrant spring colour. They add depth to the planting and are stunning against the pretty variegated foliage of the pittosporum.

Tulipa ‘Queen of Night’

Tulipa ‘Queen of Night’

Different flower forms add another dimension to any planting scheme. The lovely Allium cristophii, with its sparkling silver-lilac flower heads, never fails to please. The seedheads remain beautiful through fall.

Allium cristophii

Allium cristophii

Sedum ‘Herbstfreude’ has ice green leaves and flattened heads of pink flowers that turn red-brown and then mahogany. At their peak the blooms are a magnet for bees and butterflies and blend beautifully with the late flowers of the rose and hydrangea.

Sedum ‘Herbstfreude’

Sedum ‘Herbstfreude’

____________________

AndyMcIndoe_006_Lynn Keddie THUMBNAILAndy McIndoe is managing director of Hillier Nurseries and Garden Centres in Hampshire, England. As designer of the Hillier exhibit at the Chelsea Flower Show for more than two decades, he has upheld the company’s unprecedented record of 68 consecutive gold medals at the show. His two-acre garden at Sherfield English near Romsey is naturalistic in style with an extensive wildflower meadow and informal planting.

____________________

Click image for a look inside this book:

____________________

“A gorgeous book! And oh so helpful.”—Wall-to-Wall Books

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jean at Jean's Garden September 27, 2014 at 12:42 am

Throughout the northeastern quarter of the United States, and in many pockets in the south, midwest, and west, Berberis thumbergii is a serious invasive plant that is destroying the understory of native forests. If this book is being marketed in the United States, it should include a warning against growing this plant.

2 Brian Ridder September 29, 2014 at 12:06 pm

Thanks for the comment, Jean! The book does include invasive plant warnings. We try to include such warnings in all our books but gardening can deliver (unwanted) surprises and we encourage gardeners to do as much research as possible before planting.

Leave a Comment

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: