Positioning of the structural or framework planting of trees and shrubs to provide privacy and for me, more importantly, protection of more tender plants is my first consideration when planting a garden.
Larger mature trees and shrubs for the instant garden effect are more expensive and is the route some of my customers are happy to go. In my garden I have had to accept the slower, cheaper and patient approach of planting younger smaller plants which one day will together with their ornamental beauty contribute to the function of filtering prevailing winds and sheltering more tender plants from cold and heavy damaging rain.
Many of my strategically placed trees and shrubs are starting to contribute to their intended function and a few more years growth and my garden will be well protected. The winter and if I am honest the whole past year has further highlighted soft spots where cold and wind exert their influence shredding even my hardiest evergreen foliage plants.
As the soil is gradually getting warmer and my plants, as every day passes are showing more signs of growth, I have started planting some young evergreens which will have a whole year to acclimatise and establish before facing the next winter.
I have purchased a number of columnar conifers, they are not as fashionable as they used to be years ago as they take so long to grow (I know maybe too long) but they are extremely hardy, will never be so vigorous that I will struggle to keep them under control as we both age and I like their compact columnar shape which I use around the garden as the unifying link of my garden rooms.
Over the years they will contribute more and more to colour, texture and form in the garden in winter. The plantsman Graham Stuart Thomas always advocated that by choosing plants well, as they mature with you they can with their weed supressing nature look after the garden for you. He also adviced like other garden greats, William Robinson springs to mind, that mature plant size should be considered and enough space provided for this so heavy pruning is avoided to keep them in their allocated space. Keeping these words of wisdom in mind makes less work for the older gardener and saves on lots of waste disposal.
A problem most often encountered with young shrubs is that they can take a few years to establish and grow to a size where they can compete with more vigorous herbaceous perennials which all too often can smother them making them unsightly if not killing them off completely. I have overcome this issue by growing on young shrubs I would like for the garden in containers or as part of a container display. This gives them the opportunity to mature and me to enjoy their contribution to my garden sooner. They may be small, but I have time to enjoy watching them grow up. As Ralph Waldo Emerson (An American writer and philosopher) said “Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience”.