Buying Shrubs online
Shrubs can add year round structure and interest to any garden
Unlike perennials, shrubs don't die back each year although they may lose their leaves. They're favoured by gardeners for the structure they can add to a garden and creating interest using evergreens for a continual display. Take the Fatsia japonica, whose rich, glossy foliage leaves will last the year round and intriguing flower display will attract bees in the spring and summer.
Defined as woody-stemmed plants, usually freely branching from the base, shrubs offer a wide choice of shapes and colour in both their foliage and flowers. Some will also bear fruit which will add extra interest to their display. We list shrubs from several internet shops in our shrubs section, or you can find plants by genus.
Things to consider
Chaenomeles sucker from the roots so need more space
Shrubs range in size from a few inches in height to twenty feet or even more, but most fall comfortably in the middle of these extremes. As well as eventual height, you need to consider the spread of a mature shrub. As this can take several years to be reached, it is often a good idea to surround a young shrub with annuals or other short-lived plants which will fill the space in the short term but will not interfere with the shrub as it gets larger. Some shrubs also sucker from the roots (for example chaenomeles, the flowering quince) and allowance should be made for this too in the space allowed.
Your soil type (light, sandy and free-draining or heavy, sticky clay) will dictate what will thrive as some plants hail from hotter climates than ours and will not tolerate sitting in cold, wet soil during British winters; similarly others have strong, fleshy roots that need, and can cope with, a heavier soil.
Look to see if your neighbours are growing Camellias
Whether the soil is acid or alkaline governs whether you will be able to grow such things as rhododendrons, camellias and other ericaceous shrubs. Looking in nearby gardens to see whether your neighbours are successfully growing these is the quickest way of guessing which you have, but a soil testing kit is a more precise way of determining soil acidity.
Aspect is also an important factor – again some shrubs need all the sun they can get while others need shady conditions more akin to the woodlands of their native habitat.
One way to do your research is visit some Garden Centres and read labels to identify plant sizes and requirements; another is to purchase a small book for reference such as the Hiller Manual of Trees and Shrubs.
Buying shrubs online
Buying shrubs online has advantages and disadvantages. On the negative side, you may not be happy with the quality of what you receive. Try to stick to reputable firms or go with recommendations rather than finding a seller on a site such as EBAY. Not only are you more likely to get a better plant, there should be a customer service department if there is a problem. Also, check out the size of the plant supplied; sometimes a very cheap price only purchases a very small specimen that needs to be grown on before it is ready for planting in the garden. On the plus side, you can probably purchase a range of shrubs with different flowering times in the year all at once instead of having to wait until they are available in local Garden Centres. Reputable mail order suppliers will only ship plants at suitable times of year for getting them established in your garden and many will hold an order back if you tell them when you would like to receive it.
Where to buy shrubs online
Specialist Nurseries/ Rare shrubs
If you are looking for a smaller specialist nursery then your best bet is to go to the Royal Horticultural Society website where typing in the name of a shrub lists suppliers in the UK including ones offering mail order.
These products have been popular with our community. If you are the thorough type, browse and compare all Plants from loads of different merchants.
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