By Kim Toscano
Time to put a modern twist on our love affair with shrubs. No longer relegated to foundation plantings and backdrops, today’s shrubs are bred to steal the spotlight: with improved form, compact habits and radiant foliage. These garden designs featuring Romeo™ and Juliet™ Cleyera from Southern Living demonstrate alternative uses for shrubs – from container plantings and short-term fill to long-lasting structure.
Quick Cover for Big Impact
Romeo™ Cleyera is the headliner in this entry garden, bringing vibrant color and energy to a newly-planted nook. The variegated foliage of Romeo™ plays off the crisp green of Dragon Prince™ Cryptomeria and the darker hues of October Magic® White Shi-Shi™ Camellia.
Young shrubs offer a long-lasting alternative to annuals for filling empty space and dressing up the foreground. They cover a lot of ground and provide a structural element to the planting. Shrubs are particularly useful for styling gardens for special occasions – allowing you to match plants to the event.
This foreground planting of the fast-growing shrub Romeo™ Cleyera will eventually grow taller than its backdrop. As these temporary plantings outgrow their space, the shrubs can be repurposed throughout the landscape – in containers or in garden plantings as privacy shrubs.
Shrubs provide instant impact as container plantings, bringing structure to small spaces like patios and porches. Both Romeo™ and Juliet™ Cleyera perform well in containers, like the favorite shrub boxwood or buxus, providing evergreen color and an upright habit.
Containers can be the first stop for cycling shrubs through the landscape. Young shrubs provide the perfect centerpiece for mixed containers, while larger shrubs work well as stand-alone focal points.
Most shrubs can thrive in containers for three to five years, at which point they’ll enjoy a new home in the garden.
Ever wonder how professional garden designers achieve instant impact in their gardens? The secret is – they tend to overplant … at least initially.
A young shrub takes up half as much space (or less) than its mature counterpart. Planting to allow for mature plant size provides the optimum growing conditions for shrubs, but often leaves gardens looking bare. So designers add extra plants that are later edited out. This gives gardens a lush, full appearance from the beginning.
Our Juliet™ Cleyera grows quickly. This design helps us envision how to first achieve instant impact and then lasting landscape beauty. In this design, Juliet™ provides stunning contrast and a strong anchor to the planting. The three Juliet™ Cleyera are planted fairly close together, providing excellent fill and color. In a few years, the two cleyera on the sides may be moved to another location, leaving the center plant to mature to its full size.
This technique requires a bit of forward thinking and proper planning, such as locating the long-term shrub in the best possible location. While we wouldn’t use this technique everywhere in the garden, it provides an excellent way to create stunning plantings in prominent locations.
Download our Romeo™ and Juliet™ Cleyera plantings and experiment with these techniques in your own garden.