Whether small or large, evergreen shrubs are the sturdy backbone for flower beds and landscape design. Though not all flower year-round in seasonal climate zones, shrubs can add colour through multicoloured foliage, from coppery browns to deep green in winter and fall and icy blues or silver to bright yellow or gold in spring and summer. Choose shrubs that complement your other plantings.
Rosemary, the well-known herb, has aromatic evergreen foliage year-round. Some varieties grow as tall as 6 feet, and others grow low and wide, making it ideal ground cover for flower beds. Rosemary also makes a good informal hedge. In mid-spring, the plants produce blue, pink or white flowers and provide colourful green foliage the rest of the year. Rosemary grows best in full sun, but the plant is easy to propagate from cuttings taken from mid-to-late summer. Pests do not like rosemary, so it acts as a natural repellent in garden beds. Some varieties to try include Aureus, Benenden Blue, Miss Jessopp's Upright and Tuscan Blue.
Cotton lavender, or santolina, is a hardy evergreen that is ideal for low hedges. The shrub has aromatic, feathery grey or silvery-white foliage. There is also a green-foliage variety. Gardeners usually trim the hedge, which keeps it from flowering. Left to grow unchecked, cotton lavender produces button-like yellow flowers from June through August. Some varieties such as Santolina chamecyparissmus grow from 18 to 30 inches high. The white, feathery variety, S. pinnata neopolitana, grows to 32 inches high. Santolina is very hardy and grows well even in colder climates. The tough shrub also withstands salt well, so it's ideal for seaside gardens. Plant cotton lavender in full sun to partial shade and propagate from cuttings taken in early to mid-fall.
Photinia is a large-growing evergreen shrub, reaching heights of 6 feet tall to 5 feet across. A native of New Zealand, photinia grows best in a sunny sheltered area such as a flower bed next to a fence or house. The plant provides year-round interest. The variety Red Robin produces a foam of white flowers each spring, followed by scarlet berries that complement its red, shiny leaves. The plant turns green when it matures. It is not the hardiest of plants, and problems such as fungus can occur if leaves and debris is not raked from around its roots.
Sacred Bamboo or Nandina domestica is a slender-stemmed evergreen that looks like its namesake, but is not in the same family. The shrub works well in modern or Asian gardens. An evergreen, it has brightly-coloured, cream, orange, pink and red leaves. It produces small white flowers from June to July followed by red berries that last through fall. Nandina domestica grows to 4 feet high by 3 feet across. It thrives in full sun to partial shade. It does not fare well in colder climates, and should be protected during unusually cold days. Propagate by extracting seeds from berries and sowing in pots.
- "The Garden Flower Book"; Murdoch Books; 2009.
- "Gardening With Perennials"; Editors of Horticulture; 2004.