INTRODUCING a new fortnightly feature – super shrubs. These will be plants with performance-plus which deserve to be in every garden and which are relatively trouble-free.
Simply plant, feed, prune when necessary and sit back and watch them deliver year after year.
I was planning an easy entry to shrub No 1 – pyracantha – yet how wrong can you be. I decided to summer-trim my doughty lodger known as Orange Glow, thinking it would take an hour, 90 minutes at the most. Instead, the task spilled over into a second day and ended with me getting battle-scarrred from a host of the most fiendish spines. Unlike certain roses, where you can easily spot the barbs, those on pyracanthas are either hidden or blend with the stems, so stout gloves are a must-wear. My gloves were clearly not stout enough and I began to wish I had never started.
Never mind – future shrubs will be less demanding, I promise.
Pyracanthas, aka firethorn, come from a family of just seven evergreen species but numerous varieties. The hawthorn-like white flowers are pretty enough, but it's the autumn berries – red, yellow or orange – that take the shine. Happily, the birds don't start gobbling them until deep into winter – and who can blame them at that icy time of year?
Most firethorns top 10ft, some to 20ft. As well as Orange Glow, try Soleil d'Or with yellow fruits or Mohave with scarlet berries to rival those of holly.