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“Shrubs there are,
uses of shrubs are manifold and diverse. Invaluable as screens to hide
objects, lovely to shroud and soften the hard line between house and
useful as an underplanting to tall trees, as a background to herbaceous
as hedges, windbreaks, or as an edging to walks and drives. These are
but a few
of the ways in which they will help us in our gardening, and when we
that our climate is particularly adapted to the fine development of
wonder is that we do not see them more and better grown.
myself, I do not care for what is called the “mixed shrubbery.” Too
is made up of a large variety of kinds so tightly packed that the
efforts of the
plants are expended mainly in a struggle for mere existence and the
sweeping outlines, of which this class of plants is capable, are quite
A shrubbery border is indeed desirable in many situations, but I feel
should be much simpler in its construction than is usually the case —
groups of a few kinds chosen for their suitability to be neighbours and
irregularly one into the other, each shrub being given ample room to
even though the border must look a trifle bare for a season or two.
evergreens are a grateful change in the shrubbery border, and
along the front is very desirable. A few low-growing subjects suitable
calycinum, one foot.
of spring-flowering bulbs are charming scattered beneath and in front
shrubs, and many gay pictures may be created with their aid.
class of plants is not as a rule peremptory in its cultural demands,
this reason we have fallen into the way of imposing upon their kindly
sticking them into a shallow hole in any sort of soil and situation,
conducive to the health of the plant or not, and then feeling quite put
the poor shrub fails to come up to our glowing expectations.
appreciate a broad and deep hole, with the soil at the bottom well
broken up. It
should be broad enough to admit of the roots being spread out
deep enough to enable us to set the shrub at least two inches deeper
than it was
before-which may usually be determined by the soil-mark upon the stem.
should be set firmly in the ground and the earth well pressed down as
filled in. A pail of water poured into the hole when partially filled
the earth around the shoots thoroughly. As little delay as possible in
should follow the arrival of an order of shrubs, and if the consignment
the roots of those waiting for attention should be covered with damp
if very dry may be dipped in water before planting. They may be set out
in spring or fall.
George Gordon in his “Book of Shrubs” warns us against a practice to
we are all too prone-that of buying very large specimens in order to
immediate effect. He says: “Unless the circumstances are quite
the nursery is within a few miles of the garden, plants of medium size
preferred to those which have attained to large dimensions. The latter
costly because of the large amount expended in labour upon their
the nurseryman, and they are much more difficult to establish.
considerable care they die in the summer after they are planted. In
they are so slow in becoming established that they make little growth
for two or
three years, and when they readily take to their new quarters, it is
for them to be overtaken by plants several years younger at the time of
planting.” Mr. Gordon recommends plants offered at “the usual catalogue
prices” as best for general purposes. Perhaps the most appreciated
those which come in the early year before the snow feeling has quite
from the air, and those are important, too, in the effect of the
with only bulbs and creeping things, such as mainly decorate the
shrubs and flowering trees are needed to carry our colour higher up.
first to bloom behind our garden walls in a sheltered south border is
Mezereon (Daphne mezereum), which
before a leaf is thought of, often in late February, has wrapped its
little branches in a fragrant purple scarf or somewhat less effectively
white one. It is a dwarf and succeeds best in a light, well-drained
rich with old cow manure, and it will grow in partial shade. The first
cause the tiny crowded blossoms to open, and often in November there
another less hearty but very welcome flowering.
very early corner is the Twin-flowered Honeysuckle, Lonicera
fragrantissima, and besides decorating its brown branches in
with pairs of creamy blossoms, it floods the cold spring garden with a
delicious fragrance. It is an erect-growing, semi-evergreen shrub,
height of about six feet, and will grow almost anywhere, but in a sunny
sheltered spot it blooms earlier than in exposed places. Others of its
well worth growing and which flower much later in the year are L.
as early as the middle of March, the Forsythias hang out their yellow
casting a pale radiance for the Crocuses to get up by. There are
different sorts, all bearing the same yellow bells, but showing
their manner of growth. Forsythia suspensa
has long drooping branches, and this is the best sort for
training against a
wall, or for planting in groups in half-wild places where it will have
room to trail its branches without interfering with its neighbours. F.
intermedia is a fine form of robust habit, more erect than
suspensa, while F.
viridissima is the strongest growing and most erect of all
but with less
fine flowers than the other two. These shrubs grown in masses
constitute one of
the joys of spring. In the garden I have a group of three in a wide
with its branches trained against the wall, the other two in front of
have an underplanting of pale Crocus
bifiorus, which is very charming in the soft light of the
slipping on her clothes, also by this soft effulgence, is that baby of
Spiraea family, S. Thunbergii, a
fluffy, appealing mite, seldom growing more than a yard high and
in early spring with a smother of tiny white flowers and reddish leaves.
is a pretty shrub to grow in front of Forsythias, with drifts of purple
white and yellow Crocuses around and beneath it.
beauty of Magnolias in early spring is well known to most garden
great M. Yulan and the
Soulangeana are spoken of in the chapter on flowering trees,
but snowy M.
stellata has a place among the earliest shrubs of the year.
It is seldom
seen more than four feet high, but blooms at so early an age and
solid a mass of gleaming whiteness that it frequently looks like a
snowdrift lying upon the wet brown earth or the freshening grass. The
flowers are composed of about a dozen strap-shaped petals, loosely
the leaves do not appear until after the blossoms are past. This
most of its kin, is best suited with a rich, porous soil, and if it may
protected from the rowdy gales of the young year by wall or taller
shrubs, it is
(Chenomaler) , which blooms in early April, is one of the
effective shrubs of the entire year. The gay scarlet flowers cling
crooked, thorny bushes most artistically, and in spite of its being
what we call
“common,” should be found in every garden. There are pink and blush
and a variety called Maulei, which
some orange in its scarlet colour. Against our garden wall the ordinary
sort creates a fine picture with bright-pink early Tulips trailing down
border from its prickly skirts.
spring has got very far along her flowery path other members of the
tribe begin to deck themselves in festal array. S. prunifolia,
ft. pl., with long, wand-like branches lined with white
is early to bloom, and S. arguta is
another lovely early-blooming sort. S. Van
Houttei is a well-known and splendid sort which blooms in
early May, and is
followed through the season by other kinds, all worth having in a large
collection — Reevesii — white, May. Bumalda
— dwarf —
pink, July. Anthony
Waterer, magenta, all summer; and others.
and early Tulips are charming peeping from beneath the snowy draperies
early-flowering Spiraeas, and groups of the noble Crown Imperial are
handsome in the neighbourhood of S. prunifolia.
the end of April Ribes aureum, the
Flowering Currant of old gardens, begins to shake out its small yellow
the perfume of which seeks us out at a great distance. This is not a
high degree, but a sweet old-fashioned thing that one likes to tuck
all sorts of places for the sake of its perfume, particularly under
windows. It does well anywhere, even in shade. There are other
and atrosanguineum with
reddish flowers, but I have had only the common
Kerrias, both single and double, are at their height about the first of
rather prefer the single sort, but both are fine and golden in their
which thickly clothes the slender light-green branches. These plants
are said to
prefer a damp soil, but I have not found them fastidious, and save that
sometimes nipped by late spring frosts are most easily managed.
indeed, just now, is Prunus triloba, ft.
pl., a shrubby member of the plum family, which wreathes
itself from top to
bottom with gay pink rosettes resembling but larger than those affected
Flowering Almond. We have two great bushes of Prunus
triloba in front of the garden-house porch with a fine clump
of gray-white Florentine Iris and some cherry-coloured Tulips Pride of
as its neighbours.
gay little Flowering Almond, in both its pink and its white
manifestation, is in
full regalia at this season. Ours are growing against a group of Purple
Plums, in a border where Bleeding Hearts and pink and white Cottage
complete a delightful picture.
come Lilacs, “in snow-white innocence or purple pride,” and how glad we
to see them! Surely it is the favourite shrub. Here we have fine old
tall enough to shake their scented plumes into the second-story
windows. And all
about the countryside are magnificent specimens, many of them keeping
with the striped grass and orange Day Lilies, over the charred or
ruins of what was once a cherished home.
after making the acquaintance of many of the splendid new varieties, so
fine in colour and form, my foolish heart clings to the old-fashioned
purple and white, for no flower seems to me to so truly express the
the spring. But I am planting all sorts and feel that we cannot have
Some of the best of the new sorts are Charles X, a stirring reddish
Marie Legraye and Madam Casimir-Perier, splendid single and double
Lemoine, double cream; Souv. de Louis Spath, pinkish mauve; Pres.
lavender; Pres. Grevy, bluish-lavender; Grand Duc Constantin,
is well, if possible, to procure these new Lilacs on
their own roots, as suckers from the budded sorts cause much
trouble and if
not carefully removed will soon kill out our rare variety.
shrubs are lovelier than the old Persian Lilac, in both its lilac and
varieties. It is more slender in all its parts than the other Lilacs
its great loose panicles of bloom from top to bottom.
are other sorts of Lilacs that one might also grow. The Rouen Lilac is
and Syringa Japonica, of tree-like
form, leathery leaves, and creamy blossoms that come after other Lilacs
past, is said to be fine. I have had a bush of the Hungarian Lilac (S. Josikaea)
in the garden for several years, but it seems most deliberate
and has not
love a rich soil and a spot not too dry, and they seem to like to grow
a house, where the drip from the eaves finds its way to their thirsty
perhaps the sympathy and companionship of human beings answers to some
its nature, for surely Lilacs are never so fine as when growing close
dwelling. To prune Lilacs is to do them grievous harm. I have known
or perhaps mourn, for years after a smart trimming, not giving a single
The faded flowers are best cut away, but the branches may be left to
the beloved Lilacs May has great wealth in the way of flowering shrubs.
Deutzias are a useful and deserving race, which will thrive lustily if
tolerable conditions. There are numerous varieties, but the family is
represented by D. crenata ft. pl., Pride
of Rochester, double white flowers; Crenata
rosea, double pink; Lemoinei, a
sturdy dwarf shrub of upstanding habit, producing pure-white flowers,
gracilis, a small fluffy-flowered thing of great beauty.
Pearl Bush, is one of the prettiest of flowering shrubs, though not
Its snowy, inch-broad blossoms appear in great profusion with the
leaves, and a
well-grown specimen may be eight feet high and as many through. It
rich soil and some protection from the wind, and to be seen at its best
be given plenty of room for development.
good white-flowered shrub is Rhodotypos
Kerrioides, which has much the appearance of a single white
foliage is large and handsome and the gleaming blossoms are followed in
by dark coloured berries. It grows about six feet tall, is reasonable
soil, and belongs to the early days of the month.
Mock Oranges (Philadelphus) are only a bit behind the Lilacs in our
The old P. coronarius is perhaps
some danger of being superseded by the beautiful new hybrids, which
placed at our disposal, but they all have the same charm of creamy
delicious fragrance, and good foliage. Save for P.
microphyllus, which is a dwarf of the most engaging type,
the Mock Oranges
are tall-growing shrubs. The best of the new varieties are Avalanche,
d’Argent, Fantaisie, Mont Blanc, and Gerbe de Neige. There is a
form of coronarius which is a much better shrub than many other
things, and often very useful in lighting up a shadowy corner. These
grow in shade, if necessary, but they dislike being crowded and will
only when given plenty of space. They bloom upon the wood of the
season, so if this is cut away the result is obvious.
belong to May and are very hardy and useful shrubs, but somehow they
little enthusiasm in my soul. The white-flowered sorts, candida and
Blanche, are the prettiest, I think; but the pink-flowered varieties
favour. Eve Rathke blooms quite late and bears very handsome
flowers; Abel Carrière is a good bright rose; Esperance, pale salmon,
de Mai, purplish-pink, flower earlier than the rest; and there are also
a pretty blush-colour, and Saturn, very nearly carmine. Little pruning
required, save to keep the sturdy bushes free from old and useless
they succeed well in almost any situation.
shrub familiar to most garden-bred folk is the old Snowball tree, Viburnum opulus var. sterilis.
Great bushes of it were in the garden where I grew up and we
“Summer snowball” and not infrequently used it as such. It will grow
feet high and almost as thick through, the long branches bending under
weight of the heavy blooms. The bushes grow thickly in a rich soil and
an annual thinning out of old wood.
the opening summer comes the lovely Rose Acacia (Robinia
hispida) drooping its long branches, hung with rosy
among the fresh young leafage. I do not often see this charming shrub
handsome gardens, but I know of many humble door yards that boast its
beauty, but where it ever has an alien look, seeming to belong to
of life. The Rose Acacia is of rapid growth and becomes an ornament
deliberate shrubs are making up their minds to grow. On account of its
spreading habit it requires room to adequately display its charms. In
Mr. E. T.
Cook’s book, “Trees and Shrubs for English Gardens,” he says, “The Rose
Acacia (Robinia hispida), trained
wall or house, is as beautiful as any Wisteria, and the quality of the
rosy bloom of a much rarer colour. It is quite hardy, but so brittle
needs close and careful wail training or other support.”
the arrival of summer the great array of flowering shrubs becomes
depleted, but we do not feel their loss so much as the herbaceous
rapidly filling with tall and splendid tenants. But there are still a
old-fashioned Sweet Shrub (Calycanthus floridus), with its hard little brown
blossoms of memory-stirring fragrance,
so valuable to children for tying tightly in the corner of a
the refreshment of the nose. Some people lose their fancy for the
these little brown blossoms when they acquire a taste for spotless
and perfumes in bottles, but I do not lose my love for it. One whiff of
spicy, exhilarating odour, and open flies the gate long closed upon a
childhood, and with the brown talisman tightly held within my palm I an
pass through into a land of perpetual revels where all wonders are
where faith in life and its great promises is as firm as the walls
the garden. I like to see my children tying the Calycanthus
blossoms in their grimy little handkerchiefs, for I feel sure
they will one
day be as glad as I for a passport which will admit them once more to
sheltered garden of their childhood.
Althaea is about the most accommodating shrub of my acquaintance. Even
life in a
city backyard, where it is peppered with dust and soot and where the
breathes is far from pure, does not alter its determination to grow and
beautiful. I like the single Althaeas best, but the doubles are pretty
and generally preferred. The colours go from white to deep rose and
there are some nice purplish and lilac shades which are particularly
against stone walls or gray stucco houses. Hibiscus
syriacus is its proper name, and it is also called Rose of
Sharon. The trees
are strong and woody, and reach a height of ten feet.
shrub of mid-summer and early fall is the Hardy Hydrangea, which, in a
garden, is rather like the proverbial bull in a China shop, clumsy and
unmanageable, owing to the great size of its blossoms, which are out of
with the bush and with most things in its vicinity. It is, in the
the catalogues, “a grand specimen shrub,” and as such it is too
used to the desecration of what would otherwise be a pleasant lawn.
against tall evergreens or sweeping along a driveway the Hardy
acquires a certain dignity and power, and to my mind it is only in such
planting in wide places that it should be used. Hydrangea
paniculata and its var. grandiflora
the best and hardiest kinds. They will reach a height of about six
feet, and in
the autumn the blossoms turn a fine reddish colour, and may be brought
for winter decoration. The shrub should be severely pruned in early
one-half its growth cut back to insure a symmetrical form and countless
of the Buddleias are too tender for the rigours of our winters, those
our gardens are all varieties of B.
Davidii and are known under various names like Veitchiana,
more robust than
the type, and B. variabilis, etc.
These may be counted upon to come through a severe winter unscathed as
as Boston. These shrubs grow into fair-sized bushes with wand-like,
branches, bearing flowers not unlike the lilac in form and of a
rosy-lilac shade. The blooms form on the new wood, and the bushes
cutting back in very early spring (March) to within two or three eyes
of the old
wood. They are best planted in spring, so that they may become well
before the strain of winter.
autumn arrives we cease to expect flowers from our shrubs and are
those with colouring leaves and gay fruit. The Sumachs give superb
ruddy plumes in fine harmony with the scarlet of their foliage. The
Smoke tree, Rhus
Cotinus, is one of the finest of the Sumachs. It grows into
a tall, full
shrub, or small tree, with bright, light-green leaves. The purple
summer are not very conspicuous, but later become what the botanists
“exceedingly plumose,” giving the tree the appearance of a huge puff of
brown smoke. R. typhina laciniata, the
Cut-leaved, Staghorn Sumach, is a beautiful sort, with delicate
turns magnificently in the fall and bears, besides, great clusters of
I have not before mentioned, for while they flower early the pendent
is the chief of their charms does not come until the autumn. The common
B. vulgaris, so intimate a feature
the New England landscape, but not native to it, having been introduced
Europe many years ago, is a good sort, with small yellow flowers in
dangling, brilliantly scarlet berries in the autumn. The purple-leaved
B. vulgaris var. purpurea,
is a tall-growing shrub of splendid colour. Best known of the
perhaps, B. Thunbergii, the small,
thorny shrub so much used for low hedges.
Its foliage colours richly, and in winter the scarlet fruit dances
gayly in the
wind above the snow-shrouded garden.
of the Elders, Sambucus, are fine
the late months of the year, turning a soft yellow and bearing
fruits. The common Elder, S. canadensis, is
a good shrub and bears dark reddish-purple berries. S. nigra
var. aurea has yellow
flat clusters of bluish-white berries. S. maxima
var. pubescens bears
clusters in the late summer, which are followed by red berries.
also are gay fruited. V. Opulus has
red berries; lantana has red
that finally turn dark; dentatum has
rich blue-black fruit, and the Maple-leaved Viburnum, which grows wild
mountains, also has clusters of dark-coloured berries.
old-fashioned Snowberry peeps through most of the tumbledown fences in
neighbourhood, and we have a fine group at our own front fence. The
about five feet high and has small leaves, tiny pink flowers, beloved
which are followed by large, gleaming white berries. The appalling name
simple old friend is Symphoricarpus
racemosus. It spreads quickly, and is a good shrub of medium
these gay-leaved, bright-fruited shrubs there are many others, too
inclusion in a short chapter, but they may be found among the Dogwoods.
Euonymuses, Hawthorns, Crabs, Plums, Andromedas, Roses, Alders, and
One needs to be wary of the knife where shrubs are concerned.
Constantly I see
them lopped and mangled into the most pitiful semblance of their former
state, the ignorant butcher seemingly unaware or unmindful of the fact
has cut off the greater part of the spring’s store of blossoms. Some
seem to have a perfect mania for pruning — really it is not safe to
knife within their reach, for once launched upon a pruning orgy they
seemingly insane and cut and slash with horrid joy — just one more
twig, just one more branch of promise —
where is the gracious, long-limbed shrub of a moment ago? Quite gone,
and in its
place a stubby, shame-faced, denuded thing, already suffering pangs of
mortification over the barrenness she knows must be hers in the coming
bloom and fruitfulness.
is better not to prune at all until one knows one’s shrubs pretty
when they bloom, and if they are vigorous or delicate.
E. T. Cook says: “Many shrubs which have been in one place for some
have become stunted or poorly flowered, are often given a new lease of
life by a
hard pruning in winter, cutting away all the old wood entirely and
the remainder. With a good feeding at the same time, they will throw up
young shoots, full of vigour, which will bear fine and well-coloured
Mr. Cook also says that when
cut is made it should be accomplished with a sharp instrument, clean
slanting toward a bud.
Most flowering shrubs need little or no pruning, save the removal of old and useless wood, but if pruning is considered desirable it is essential to know whether the flowers are borne upon the old or upon the new wood, so that we shall not cause ourselves, as well as the poor shrub, the sorrow of a flowerless season.