Belfast Telegraph

Greening Grey Britain: Park these shrubs in your garden

If you thought plants you find in car parks were boring, think again. The RHS says urban stalwarts can be so much more with a little care

The RHS is calling on gardeners to learn to love the nation's car park plants - robust, everyday shrubs often found dotted across urban landscapes - as part of its national Greening Grey Britain campaign.

Including snowberry, brachyglottis and Oregon grape, these shrubs are a common sight in car parks but have fallen out of favour as, if uncared for, they can become woody and misshapen.

Yet they provide important ground cover, shelter for wildlife, prevent soil erosion and help limit flooding and offer colour and structure in difficult corners. Plants that can be taken from car park to garden include:

Cornus alba 'Sibirica'

These are grown for their fiery red stems in winter. When a hedge trimmer is put over them annually, they can turn brown, but cut all stems off at 6in in early April and the reward is a fine display from November to March.

Brachyglottis 'Sunshine'

A modest evergreen shrub with grey leaves and yellow daisy flowers. It is notably drought-resistant and ideal for sunny dry spots.

Oregon grape

A low-spreading evergreen shrub widely planted in the shade. Its edible fruits are consumed by birds, and self-sown seedlings are common, doing a good job in many an inhospitable border.

Lonicera nitida 'Baggesen's Gold Oregon'

Often given a lumpy haircut with a hedge trimmer, this plant can be easily and quickly shaped into small hedges and shapes such as balls and cones, creating an eye-catching structure.

One to avoid

One exception to the rule is buddleia. Despite being great for butterflies, it can self-seed and become a weed. The RHS suggests avoiding planting it where seedlings can blow into waste ground, railway lines and the countryside.


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