(12) Pyrus spectabilis and Berberis aquifolium (Mahonia aquifolia). The Pyrus is one of the most beautiful of all flowering trees, bearing abundance of large rosy flowers in spring. With shelter and in good soil it may make a tree twenty feet high or more. There are several garden forms, one (magnifica) with large flowers, another double. The Barberry is the well known covert plant, which thrives in shade. The foliage is very dark in colour. The berries are purple.
Fig. The pyrus (spectabilis) is one of the most beautiful of all flowering trees. The double form is here shown. Colour photo by R. A. Malby.
(13) Almond (Trunus Amygdalus amara) and Berberis stenophylla. The Almond is one of the earliest trees to bloom and in mild winters may be in flower in February. The pink flowers are borne profusely. Berberis stenophylla is a beautiful evergreen, with long, graceful shoots laden with yellow flowers.
Fig. The Almond, One Of The Earliest Trees To Bloom, And In Mild Winters May Be In Flower In February. It is here shown with Prunus Pissardii. Painted by Josephine Gundry.
Other favourite ornamental trees may be planted with shrub companions on the lines suggested above. Where only one tree is planted it should be given, if possible, a bevy of three shrubs, one in front of the tree stem, the others rather farther back and forming a triangle with the tree. Each tree should have a strong stake, put in at the time of planting. It is important that the stake be firm, and if necessary an opening into the subsoil should be made for the pointed end with the aid of a crowbar after the hole for the tree has been made. The stake should then be driven down with a mallet. It is desirable that the top of the stake should come just within the head of the tree, as then the edge cannot chafe the tree stem. As a further precaution, a piece of old cycle tube may be wrapped round the stem when the tree is tied to the stake. With the hole made deep enough to cover the roots, and the soil well rammed in, the firmness and steadiness that are so desirable are secured.
Having accomplished two stages of our task, let us now turn to the front area. In some respects this is the most important. Here, if anywhere, will come our mounds and bays of brilliant colour. Here, too, may be planted small, choice or new shrubs, which it is important shall be immediately under the eye, and not overgrown by stronger objects.
In some cases the front area will be planted with the best of the herbaceous plants dealt with in the sister volume, "Hardy Perennials and Herbaceous Borders," but our present study is the shrubs.
In cases where Rhododendrons and hardy Azaleas are not planted in lawn beds our first task must be to provide for them in the border. The great hybrid Rhododendrons are, however, large, and it would be preferable to group them in lawn beds, whether as single specimens or massed. Under conditions favourable to them, Rhododendrons would grow to such proportions as to obscure most of the trees and shrubs in the middle area, indeed, if they are to be grown in mixed borders of shrubs it would be well to give them that zone, with no background beyond that of the large trees. Some of the species and hybrids would, however, be quite suitable for the front belt, notably hirsutum, praecox and the mauve-coloured Early Gem.
The beautiful hybrid Azaleas of the Mollis and Sinensis sections suggest themselves at once as admirable shrubs for the front zone, as they are of low, bushy growth, bloom profusely, and embrace a number of beautiful shades not to be found in any other hardy shrub. Planted about four feet apart in a group, they will make glorious masses of colour in June and promontories of them may be formed at intervals along the border.
The Forsythias must be included, because of their abundant production of yellow flowers very early in the year in advance of the leaves.
Nothing is more delightful than a group of Daphnes, which may be placed at a point near the lawn or path, partly because of their delicious perfume, which people who walk in the garden will be constantly stooping to inhale. There are several varieties of the old dark red Mezereum, and the white may be associated with the red if desired.
A beautiful little evergreen shrub for a peaty bed (but it will thrive in loam) is Menziesia or Daboëcia polifolia, which is allied to the Heaths. Ineffective as a single plant, it is charming in a colony, the members planted two or three feet apart. The white variety should be associated with the purple, for it is equally beautiful.
The Weigela or Diervilla differs from the foregoing in being of tall, loose habit, but a place must be found for one or two of the best varieties, because it flowers profusely and is very showy. When there is plenty of young wood in the bush it may be expected to be a mass of bloom almost from the ground to the tip. It will thrive in almost any soil.
The Brooms give us a set of beautiful plants of graceful habit, the most showy of which is the brown and yellow variety of Cytisus scoparius called Andréanus. A group of this should be planted, if possible, for it has a very lively effect. Other good Brooms are Cytisus praecox, yellow; and C. albus, white, the former very early.
Of the brighter Spiraeas, none is better for making a group at the front of a border than Anthony Waterer, which is a crimson variety of the popular species japonica. It grows about a yard high and blooms profusely in summer.
The Hydrangeas, as we have seen in a previous chapter, never look better than when mature plants are established in large tubs, stood for the summer at the waterside or in other selected places. They just lack complete hardiness; nevertheless, colonies grow naturalised in some southern gardens, and a group of some good variety of Hortensis should be planted in the border. Their duration of bloom is remarkable. The white variety of paniculata called grandiflora is hardy and looks well planted over Rubus odorata, which has dark bronzy leaves.
The Olearias are often represented by stellulata (Eurybia Gunniana), a beautiful pure white species, and this shrub is well worthy of a place at the front of the border. Haastii is also very useful, blooming freely in summer, but it requires more room.
Various deciduous Spiraeas should be planted, notably Thunbergi, palmata (red) and Aitchisoni, for they are of graceful habit.
Few deciduous shrubs have been more largely planted in recent years than Buddleia variabilis
Veitchiana, a plant of vigorous growth, which bears large panicles of lavender flowers in summer. This noble plant should have a sheltered site, and it may be given a corner position where it can develop freely, as it may grow to twelve feet high or more.
The Ceanothuses are frequently reserved for wall culture, but they look well in the border, and one of the finest forms is the variety of azureus called Gloire de Versailles.
Lavender should not be forgotten. Apart from its perfume, it is quite decorative.
The foregoing embrace but a small part of the material in the way of beautiful shrubs and trees which await the grower. Nevertheless, the suggestions given may be helpful as showing how, by proceeding on an intelligible system, representatives of the best kinds may be brought into use, not only for individual effect, but for making a collective and cumulative display. Proceeding on a similar system, the shrub-lover who has ample space may make more and more beds and borders, until he has formed a collection of the best kinds, all grown under conditions which give them an opportunity of displaying their true merits.
In addition to the kinds mentioned in the foregoing paragraphs, many beautiful shrubs and small trees not commonly met with can be worked in. The following are all beautiful; the letter p indicates that a good deal of peat is required. For descriptive details of all the kinds see Part 4.
p Andromeda (Pieris) floribunda.
p Andromeda polifolia.
Camellia Sasanqua (wall).
p Daphne Blagayana.
p Daphne Cneorum.
p Desfontainea spinosa.
P Epigaea repens.
p Fabian a imbricata.
p Chionanthus retusus.
p Enkianthus campanulatus.
p Eucryphia pinnatifolia.
Hamamelis mollis (Witch Hazel.)
Hibiscus syriacus in variety.
Hydrangea paniculata grandiflora.
Spiraea prunifolia flore pleno.
Tamarix hispida aestivalis.