Shrub Snub ?

I have decided to go public about my shrubby feelings.

I know this sounds drastic, but you really can’t  imagine what its like in the horticultural world to be a closet shrub-hater. Similarly in my recent past  at  work in a garden center  whilst keeping my true identity masked,  I sold bottle after bottle of  every insect and plant killer available. All this went against the eco grain,  now no longer do I  wax on about this and that rhododendron, although the tree form is quite amazing. I however never kept my feelings about the dreaded one , the Leyland cypress a secret. It’s a fairly instant way of bonding with similar gardeners, just say -pssst- leylandii- see what happens.

Forsythia, now is growing in my front garden, don’t ask me how it got there, it must have been a mad moment or a sudden longing for yellow. Or perhaps just wanting anything easy to grow.  Buddleia is the shrub for me,  it is everywhere in this garden, purple , blue and now hopefully a white form if the cuttings take. Box is close to my heart, always willing take whatever form the blade wishes. Japanese quince, beautiful for its much-needed red blooms. Roses, the shrub forms mostly. I am slowly building.  up a collection. Finally bamboo, I have some darlings and one devil.  Once growing innocently in a corner of  a  friends garden, now rampaging and wilfully taking over my field! It’s a Sasa palmata nebulosa .  I now only collect the clumping forms. Let us not  forget ‘Lough Key forest park’, bamboo forest, – not a pretty sight!  Below is a photo of  ‘Sasa veitchii’ nana’ . It’s not a true variegation, the leaves are completely green in summer. I love it! Grow it where you want a bit of wild ground cover, it’s height is about 3 feet.

Darling dwarf bamboo, the variegation slows it down.

  Yesterday I was in a beautiful garden near Keadue in Roscommon. It is a permaculture garden managed by one woman. I do believe it is the measure of a garden to see it in winter or near its end when all is laid bare and unadorned. It’s a very small patch of  land sloping away to the north , densely planted with trees, lined with fedges. Two large ponds fed by a spring well which Colette  divined herself . Here and there the earth peels back to reveal huge slabs of ground rock, some of which has been excavated and used to create steps. The trees are primarily goat willow,  a very delightful small  tree when made tidy with a little pruning. 

 My own personal style of gardening deeply resonates with this garden.  Here and there a Scots pine gives valuable and welcome evergreeness, but the space is  largely planted with native deciduous species. The very clear ponds vibrate  musically with amorous amphibians, and are full of frog spawn. Stepping stones  cross the various streams which  all feed from the same spring.

At one place several laurels had been closely planted to create an evergreen arch.( I was so taken with it  I forgot to photo it). The rich green  was refreshing on my eyes after the muted bark colours of all the deciduous species. So although this one shrub previously banished from my list of darling plants, will now be welcomed with open arms to my windswept garden.  For more information on this garden visit


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