Mark and I began creating our garden when we were both in our late 40s. Our original design included a number of evergreen shrubs for winter interest. Though we've continued to add evergreen and deciduous shrubs over the years, we're now looking at them as plants to replace perennials and thus make the garden a bit easier to maintain. Color, texture and pattern — more of it provided by foliage instead of flowers.
Whether this concept works in practice as well as theory we've yet to discover. But this summer we upped the ante with a slew of new shrubs, many of them added to the large irregular beds on either side of the path in the photo below.
Initially we added a Pinus strobus 'Blue Shag' along the front edge of the left border about halfway down the length of the bed (below). Two mature yew balls and a Taxus cuspidata 'Aurescens' had already been growing in this border for a number of years.
The garden directly across the path had lost some small new trees as well as a 60-year-old Austrian pine in the last couple of winters. After looking at the gaping holes for part of the summer, we added a Pinus strobus 'Tiny Curls', the tiny plant in the front center of the image with a white i.d. tag. (The two caged plants with i.d. tags are perennials the bunnies keep eating).
To pick up the yellow tones of the yew across the path, we put in a Rhus typhina 'Tiger Eyes'. We plan on letting that attain a significant size over time, pulling out perennials as need be. The 'Touch of Class' Hosta got moved and in its space we added a mature Metasequoia glyptostroboides 'North Light' (on the right below). We splurged on a large specimen of 'North Light' (from Stonewall Nursery) because our smaller one has done so well.
For years we've planted very little on the slopes around the Tea House (below) because Mark needed access all around the building as he was constructing it. This year we finally started fleshing out the plantings. There already were a few boxwoods balls adjacent to the steps up to the building, a clumping bamboo and a big swath of groundcover irises. We added a small yew ball at the top of the slope and a larger one at the bottom, to make a sharp contrast with all the low perennials. We're currently thinking about putting a Russian cypress in the open space — one more shrub rather than one more swath of perennials. After I took this picture, I decided to add the 'Touch of Class' Hosta in front of the yew at the bottom of the slope.
Here's the list of all the shrubs we put in, as not all of them are pictured.
MAY: Pinus strobus 'Tiny Curls', Pinus thunbergiana 'Yachio'. These are very tiny and will take five-ten years to make a statement.
JULY: Berberis thunbergii 'Admiration' (small shrub with coral red foliage with yellow margins which the bunnies half ate during the first week), Fothergilla major 'Blue Shadow', Philadelphus 'Snow Dwarf', Pinus strobus 'Blue Shag', Sambucus nigra 'Black Lace', Rhus typhina 'Tiger Eyes'
AUGUST: three Taxus x media 'Densiformis' (two smalls and one large enough for instant impact)
SEPTEMBER: Paeonia 'Nosegay', Metasequoia glyptostroboides 'North Light'
To see what kind of foliage appeals to other gardeners, visit Pam at Digging who hosts this monthly meme.