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Evergreens to keep your garden g(r)o(w)ing

keep your garden growing

The most fulfilling part of keeping a lush garden is patiently observing the fruits of your labour from months and years before. But let's be honest, that patience wears thin quickly when eyeing out unexpected bald spots in the garden that'll be there for at least another season. 

As the garden dies back in winter, it can start to look a bit bare. So consider this time as an opportunity to research, plan, purchase and plant the evergreen, thriving beauties that will fill your garden with life all year round, from corner to corner.

More than just 'ever-greenery' 

If you're relying on evergreens for their namesake (being green all year round), you're missing out on the true potential of these masters of green. Yes, evergreens provide some colour to the landscape with little effort, but their true magic lies in how they can be strategically planted and shaped to create a masterpiece within any outdoor space.

Evergreen shrubs to add STRUCTURE 

It's best to think of evergreen plants as creating a permanent structure to anchor your summer plants. Treat them as a framework for the garden, creating boundary walls to contain spring and summer plants.  

Once you've planned the structure of your garden, expand your thinking to walls and pillars. These can be anchors, too, welcoming of evergreen climbers.

OUR TOP PLANT PICK: Laurus nobilis (Kitchen Bay)
  • A well-known, semi-hardy evergreen shrub
  • Great for shaping into tall hedges and large topiary structures
  • An invaluable culinary plant in the kitchen (Leaves can be added to numerous dishes and are among the main ingredients of bouquet garni.)
  • Bay is not fussy over soil types, but it would be advisable to plant away from biting winds to protect the new season's growth in frigid winters. Alternatively, grow as a specimen in a container and bring it to a porch or conservatory during a cold spell. 
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Evergreen shrubs to define SPACES

A guide to distinguishing between vertical and horizontal lines: Tall trees form your vertical lines – the foliage that creates privacy in your garden. Horizontal lines are comprised of quick-growing, dense, evergreen shrubs trimmed into all sorts of shapes.

Hedges made from box (Buxus), or Privet can soften boundaries and accentuate the division between spaces.

Smaller evergreen shrubs, such as lavender and hebe provide form, colour and texture at the lower level. These are perfect for enhancing edges, softening level changes, or dividing connected spaces.

OUR TOP PLANT PICKS: Buxus Sempervirens (Buxus/Box), Ligustrum Ovalifolium (Privet) and Hebe Donna 

  • Buxus is a slow-growing evergreen shrub ideal for creating low formal hedges, as the small, glossy, green leaves and compact growing habit makes it a great low maintenance option.
  • Purchase in a 1 Litre Pot , 9 Centimetre Pot or as a Japanese Topiary Ball 
  • In July, privet hedging inherits rich green leaves and develops creamy white flowers, which attract butterflies and birds. Buy Privet here 
  • Hebe Donna is a very bushy plant with an abundantly flowering habit. 
  • These plants look splendid in a pot on your patio, terrace or balcony but also shine like a true star in open ground where they can define spaces. 
  • Hebe Donna Eva 
  • Hebe Donna Emma 

Evergreen shrubs for garden BORDERS 

Edging plants work well to form beautiful borders around a walkway or a garden path, create separation between your garden and your neighbour's, and add texture in containers.

OUR TOP PLANT PICK: Camellia Japonica Roger Hall 
  • Camellia Roger Hall is a vigorous, upright, evergreen shrub with elliptic, glossy, dark green leaves and double red flowers from late winter into spring.

  • Supplied in 1 Litre Pot 

Evergreen shrubs for colourful FLOWERS 

Speaking of Camellias, it’s a delightful feature of some evergreen plants to bring non-stop colour to your landscape. 

Think beyond flowers and picture vibrant leaves in varying shades to brighten up your space all year round. Not all evergreen shrubs are green – their foliage comes in many other shades, from grey to purple to golden and variegated. 

For those with the bonus of flowers, there's a particular plant we have in mind for you.

OUR TOP PLANT PICK: Camellia Japonica Ruby Wedding
  • The 'Ruby Wedding' Camellia is a gift that will keep giving year after year. Every spring, it erupts into profuse, ruby-red flowers. The colour of this Camellia is incredibly vivid, exuding fiery tones right through spring. 'Ruby Wedding' flowers profusely and very reliably from March right through to April.
  • As a compact shrub, this Camellia is ideally suited to planting in a container to bring some colour to a terrace or patio, and will do best in ericaceous soil in either partial shade or sun. 
  • Easy to grow and super reliable, this handsome, evergreen shrub has glossy, bright green leaves providing year-long interest.
  • Supplied in a 1 Litre Pot 

Evergreen shrubs for VARIEGATED FOLIAGE 

The definition of variegated is “marked with different colours.” Think of those eye-catching leaves consisting of green, with a striking presence of yellow, cream or white. 

A shrub with variegated foliage magically brightens up a shady spot, and its lively tones pop against a solid colour. 

OUR TOP PLANT PICK: Daphne Odora Aureomarginata 

  • A sought-after shrub for any winter garden, with its success winning it an RHS Award of Garden Merit. 
  • This hardy evergreen plant has a rounded, compact habit and glossy, gold-edged leaves. 
  • Perfect for growing in patio containers and borders, it adds structure all year round, with the addition of highly scented pink flowers during late winter and early spring.
  • It thrives in a sunny, sheltered position where its handsome, variegated foliage will brighten the winter garden.
  • Available in a 3 Litre Pot 

Evergreen shrubs that CHANGE COLOUR through the seasons 

Some evergreen foliage changes hues depending on the season, providing variety through varying swathes of colour.

  • Euonymus Harlequin is a fascinating dwarf evergreen shrub that produces ever-changing foliage. New leaf growth begins as pure white and develops gorgeous light and dark green speckles with age, eventually developing an unusual pink tinge in winter. Buy yours here 
  • Euonymus Japonicus Ovatus Aureus is a wonderfully colourful shrub with golden yellow and green evergreen foliage. The oval-shaped leaves are margined with bright yellow, surrounding a dark green centre. In summer, pale green flowers appear, occasionally followed by pink fruits in autumn – but this species is grown mainly for its ornamental foliage—Ready for purchase here 

Evergreen shrubs for SCENTED FLOWERS 

Floral scents are hardly a sensory experience we readily associate with winter. We revisit Daphne Odora Aureomarginata (Daphne) for this unexpected delight, which we highlighted earlier for its variegated foliage. 

The versatile Daphne is a wonderful and hardy evergreen specimen – the perfect plant to produce clusters of highly fragrant flowers. Grow them where you can easily walk by to inhale their aromatic treasures. 

A note on Conifers

The term "evergreen" is synonymous with "conifers". So much so that in some parts of the world, the amateur gardener might believe that only one evergreen plant exists – the conifer.  

We couldn't leave these synonymous shrubs unmentioned.

Conifers are great for rich foliage, and the dwarf varieties are perfect for containers. Try the Elwood’s Gold. It’s a slow-growing evergreen conifer with a compact and columnar habit. With gold-green evergreen foliage tipped with gold all year round, it makes a prevalent choice for adding texture colour and providing you with year-round interest with little maintenance.

The importance of evergreens

With their reliable supply of new leaves, evergreens are the heroes of the plant world. These shrubs provide shelter, screening, and year-round interest – all with very little maintenance. 

Select your favourites for their beautiful flowers, variegated leaves, brightly coloured berries and all-round versatility. Then, mix them in with your planting to create an evergreen backbone for your garden.

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