Horticulture Magazine

31 Shrubs That Are Perfect For Garden Borders

flowering yellow english rose bushes

There are so many beautiful flowering bushes for UK gardens that it can be difficult to know where to begin.

In this article, we will explore some native options, before looking at some of the best non-native options that look beautiful and will thrive in many different gardens.

The reason why you might want to first consider native flowering bushes is that native plants will often be best suited to local growing conditions.

various shrubs in garden edging with very tall stone wall in the background

They can also be a boon for native pollinators, and other native wildlife, which has long evolved alongside these species.

However, non-native species can be good for pollinators too, and can thrive as long as the right plants are chosen for the right places.

Shrubs For Spring

In the UK, there are a number of small trees and shrubs that can be grown as bushes as part of a hedge, or towards the back of a garden bed or border.

These all flower in the spring, and can be very attractive, but the main reason to grow these is for their utility to native wildlife.

All of the below except broom have edible uses, and broom is an attractive and useful nitrogen-fixing plant. [source]

Natives

Blackthorn / Sloe
white flowering blackthorn bushes
Broom
yellow flowers of Cytisus scoparius
Elder
sambucus nigra shrub with pink flowers in summer
Hawthorn
hawthorn white flowers up close
Hazel
hazel tree in front garden with house in background

Non-Natives

Great non-native options to consider are numerous, but some which I personally favour are:

Forsythia
yellow flowering forsythia in garden border
Prunus triloba
pink Prunus triloba flowers growing from a stone border
Ribes sanguineum
pinkish-red Ribes sanguineum
Skimmia japonica
Skimmia japonica on the edge of a garden lawn
Weigela
weigela flowering in a perennial border

Shrubs For Summer

Summer is of course a time of plentiful blooms – and shrubs can flower, either conspicuously and showily, or more quietly over this period.

Aside from native roses, the flowers of native bushes at this time of year are, perhaps, not really show-stoppers – but these blooms can look pretty, and be of benefit to all the insect life in your garden.

These native bushes can also provide ornamental value throughout other seasons of the year.

Natives

Buckthorns
buckthorn bush with orange berries
Dogwoods
dogwood bushes with red stems in winter time
Native Roses
pink and white roses growing from a border space with conifers in the background
Viburnums
huge viburnum bush with white flowers
Wild Privet
wild privet hedging

If you are looking for more showy and extravagant blooms from your summer flowering bushes, then non-native options will be the way to go.

There are of course a staggering number of summer flowering bushes to choose from.

Non-Natives

Some of my own favourite non-native summer flowering options are:

Buddleja
purple buddleja blooms
Ceanothus
round ceanothus shrub in border with timber fence in background
Deutzia
Deutzia shrub with white flowers
Lavender
lavender spilling out of a border alongside a lawn
Non-native roses
two large pink flowers of Rosa rugosa
Rosa rugosa

Shrubs For Autumn

Many of the native bushes, though they do not flower in autumn, look great in the autumn months.

Many of the options listed above have beautiful (and sometimes edible) berries, nuts or fruits and many have attractive autumn foliage.

That adds plenty of interest throughout the year.

However, if you would like bushes that can flower well into autumn, non-native options to consider include:

Abelia x grandiflora
Abelia x grandiflora foliage and flowers
Ceratostigma willmottianum
light blue coloured flowers of Ceratostigma willmottianum
Clerodendrum trichotomum
Clerodendrum trichotomum with black berries and star shaped flowers
Fuchsias
bell-shaped flowers of pink Fuchsia magellanica Riccartonii
Hebe (e.g ‘Autumn Glory’)
large round hebe shrub growing from a garden border

Shrubs For Winter

yellow gorse with clear blue sky in the background

Gorse is one native bush that will flower in the winter and into spring. (It is also a nitrogen fixer).

Dogwoods are also great for winter interest with their colourful branches.

Other winter flowering shrubs include:

Chimonanthus praecox
Chimonanthus praecox flowers against a blue sky background
Mahonia japonica / Mahonia x media
Mahonia x media with bushy yellow flowers
Stachyurus praecox / S. chinensis
large Stachyurus praecox shrub
Viburnum
white flowering viburnum growing against a wall

(e.g. V. tinus, V. x bodnantense ‘Dawn’ etc..)

Winter Flowering Jasmine
yellow coloured winter flowering jasmine

Choosing Flowering Shrubs For Your Garden

large yellow flowering Hypericum x hidcoteense 'Hidcote' shrub in the border of an English cottage garden

The list above is of course a highly selective one – there are many more shrubs to consider.

But when choosing flowering bushes for your garden, it is important to pay attention to the conditions in your bed or border, and to choose plants accordingly.

When choosing flowering bushes for garden borders, be sure to look at:

  • The climate and microclimate in your garden, and whether shrubs you are considering are hardy enough to cope.
  • Whether you need shrubs for full sun, partial or deeper shade.
  • The soil type, conditions and ph in your garden, and whether this suits the bushes you are considering.
  • Whether the site is sheltered or exposed.
  • The space available, and how large the flowering bushes you are growing will become.

It can also be a great idea to think about how flowering bushes in your garden can be useful as well as beautiful.

Consider those with edible fruits, nuts or berries, for example – some bushes can also usefully be pruned or coppiced for their wood, and can generate biomass for composting and mulches in your garden.

Hydrangea paniculata 'Silver Dollar' growing in a large garden edge

It can also be helpful to think about flowering bushes in terms of how they will look, and how they will fit in with the general and overall look and feel of your garden.

Are you looking for flowering bushes to give a wild and natural look? Or do you prefer your garden to feel much more manicured and tamed?

Some flowering bushes will best suit the former, while others are neater in form and better suited to the latter.

You should think about how your choices for flowering bushes will fit in with the other flowers and plants you wish to grow, or are already growing.

Think about the above and you should be able to find the perfect flowering bushes for your garden borders, no matter where you live, and no matter what exactly you are looking for.

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