Last updated on March 6th, 2022
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If you have a smaller garden, finding the right combination of plants can be challenging, especially when you need to consider incorporating things like containers and doing away with plants that take over every space possible. More importantly, you don’t want plants that require endless pruning or maintenance in order to keep them in check. With this in mind, there are some wonderful evergreen and deciduous shrubs that you can incorporate into your small garden, not just to provide colour and low maintenance foliage, but to even incorporate in pots or as hedges.
Below are the top 10 evergreen shrubs for small gardens, each of which brings a luminescent quality and rich design to your space.
1. Azalea mollis Luteum – Sweet Pontica Azalea
This particular shrub is prized for the bright yellow colours it brings in the spring and the sweet fragrance it can offer your garden. Commonly referred to as the Sweet Pontiac Azalea, it is a striking bush with floral displays that have funnel-shaped flowers reaching up to 5cm in size. The flowers bring a light yet rich shade of yellow to your spring and summer garden. They are a perfect shrub for growing in pots on patios.
As the season changes, you will catch stunning shades of red, yellow and orange leaves in contrast to the usual green coloured foliage. This stunning shrub will grow quite vigorously and reach up to 150cm tall and wide.
It grows very well in sun or partial shade and we’ll thrive easily in moist acidic soil. It is perfect for creating a privacy screen, attracting butterflies and bees, even as a shrub border or a flowering hedge.
2. Pieris ‘Forest Flame’ – Lily of the Valley
The ‘Forest Flame’ gets its name from the mixture of colours you will get during a single season. The new foliage is a stunning bright red colour (as pictured above) and during the course of a single season you will see bright green leaves at the base, and as you bring your gaze upwards, you will take in a collection of red and pink leaves.
This broadleaf evergreen shrub is commonly referred to as the ‘Lily of the Valley’ and it flowers between March and April producing white blooms. It is going to thrive most in acidic and well-drained soil.
The Pieris Forest Flame prefers a sheltered location so that it’s protected against cold winds and bright sunshine in the afternoon. Is perfect to use to create a shrub border or to be mixed in with other evergreens, like those on this list.
3. Santolina chamaecyparissus – Cotton Lavender
The Cotton Lavender is a favourite staple of Mediterranean gardens and will bring your garden a beautiful array of colours. This evergreen shrub is well known for having dense, finely packed grey-green foliage all year round, making it a good groundcover plant. It is also very drought tolerant and this makes it ideal for planting in areas where you might not get a lot of rain.
In the summer months, you will see it produce small, bright yellow flowers that are about the size of a button. It grows in dense mounds that can reach up to 60cm in height and 90cm in width. It is perfect as a contribution to any edging in your small garden and offers a rich colour all year round which can add ambience to an otherwise dull garden space.
4. Hebe ‘Red Edge’
The Hebe red Edge is an evergreen shrub that is known for having simple leaves and spikes of small tubular flowers throughout the summer and autumn. The leaves themselves are oblong in shape taking on blue or green shades and the margins are tinted with red in the winter, which is where its ‘Red Edge’ name derives from.
This plant will reach up to half a metre in height and width once it reaches full maturity. It does well in full sun or partial shade and can tolerate alkaline or neutral soil. Overall it’s a really good plant to consider for small gardens and can even be pruned to keep it in check.
5. Evergreen Azaleas
Evergreen Azaleas offer magnificent flowers and truly are one of the most prominent ornamental shrubs for small gardens. The evergreen varieties come in all shapes and sizes with tiny delicate blossoms, fragrances and stunning foliage. There are plenty of varieties that can tolerate severe winter conditions as well, which means that even in the coldest of gardens, Azaleas will thrive.
There are a handful of evergreen varieties that do best in British gardens and have received multiple prizes, such as the ‘Golden Lights’ variety, this is a hybrid offering funnel-shaped golden flowers and the ‘English Roseum’ which is a showy evergreen shrub that gives you lilac flowers adorned with orange freckles.
And then, of course, there are the richer shades of the ‘Rosy Lights’, ‘White Lights’ and ‘Windbeam’. The best time to get evergreen Azaleas at your local garden centre is very early spring just before they begin to flower. Garden centres sell out quickly during this time because the flowers are guaranteed to catch people’s attention, and supply is usually limited, I know this because I used to work in a small garden centre.
6. Ceanothus ‘Puget Blue’ – Californian Lilac
The Californian Lilac is an award-winning evergreen shrub that is known for producing an abundance of beautiful lavender coloured flowers by the end of spring and through to the beginning of summer.
The flowers produced take on such an abundance that they will obscure any of the foliage underneath. They draw to the flowers butterflies, bees and birds love them for the cover they provide once fully established, it will reach up to 150cm tall and wide. These plants are perfect for creating shrub borders, wallside borders or as a specimen plant, especially if you have a sunny area in your small garden. They are very tolerant of alkalinity and drought tolerant as well once established. If your garden needs a stunning lilac colour, this is the shrub to pick and is easy to keep pruned.
7. Cytisus × beanii – Beans Broom
For a shrub that takes on a unique appearance both in stems and flowers, the Beans Broom is what you want. This is an evergreen shrub that can grow erect, taking on almost a tree-like shape with very small, 3 parted leaves and bean-like flowers that you will see throughout the spring and summer.
This semi-prostrate shrub can reach up to 35cm in height and it offers linear green leaves and rich yellow flowers. The flowers themselves take on sort of closed appearance similar to bells and they grow up right along the prostrate stems offering a fascinating collection of colours for your garden.
8. Daphne ‘Aureomarginata’ – Golden Edge Winter Daphna
As the name suggests this evergreen produces leaves that are rich and green with golden edges. When it blooms in winter and early spring it will produce pink and white flowers. Because it thrives in full sun, morning sun with afternoon shade and even filtered sun, this actually makes it an ideal choice to integrate into smaller gardens that might be limited in terms of sunlight exposure.
More importantly, it’s drought resistant and deer resistant. When you plant this in your garden rest assured you will not only get beautiful flowers but you will get fragrant flowers. The intoxicating scent that is produced causes this shrub to stand out, especially when you consider this is one of the few shrubs that bloom at the end of winter, indicative of the upcoming spring.
It is best planted close to your decking or patio where you can enjoy the fragrance and the early winter blooms. If you are looking for only one evergreen shrub to add fragrance to your small garden this should be it.
9. Hydrangea macrophylla
Otherwise known as the Mophead Hydrangea, this shrub will give you stunning blooms that can range in both size and colour. If you are looking for a plant that requires very little maintenance, next to no pruning and whose bloom colours you can control, this is what you want in your small garden.
These big-leaf Hydrangeas, in the form of mop heads or lace caps, offer a stunning collection of large flowers complemented by larger leaves. You can change the colours so that they range between blue and pink or anywhere in between. This is one of the few plants with which you can do that. They require morning sun with afternoon shade and well-drained soil.
The shade of blue or pink that you achieve is a direct result of the alkalinity or acidity of your soil, meaning if you have particularly alkaline or acidic soil and you don’t want to go through the effort of changing the soil because of the other plants in your garden, you can simply pick this Hydrangea and let the colours reflect the soil. These Hydrangeas are also perfect for growing in pots.
10. Hypericum Hidcote – St. John’s Wort
Commonly known as St John’s Wort this shrub produces beautiful, open gold and yellow flowers from June through September. It can be very easily grown in well-drained soil and tolerate full sun or partial shade. More importantly, it tolerates a wide range of soils including sandy or rocky soil so if your small garden has particularly sandy soil and you simply don’t have the time or the money to put into changing the structure, consider planting a St John’s Wort shrub.
Last update on 2022-03-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API