This selection of shrubs is chosen specifically for the poor, thin, acid soils common on the upper parts of the Howth Penninsula. The two we have selected below are at their best this month.
As long as they are planted in acid soil, camellias are not difficult to grow, and will even thrive in tricky semi-shaded areas, needing only minimal care once established. Most grow into large shrubs or small trees, but are extremely versatile and can be used as wall shrubs, hedges or superb container specimens.
For centuries, camellias have been popular in Japan and China, as can be seen on many of their works of art. Gardeners in Britain first grew these new plants in the early 18th century and by 1850, the camellia had become a prized ornamental shrub. Victorians loved the formality of the blooms and the elegant nature of the evergreen foliage. But, after the Victorian era, interest in camellias waned. Only in the 1950s did they become fashionable again, helped by the introduction of new varieties and species.
Chaenomeles x superba flowers very heavily and tends to grow wider than it is tall, an advantage when wall trained. A tough and very hardy shrub, popular for late winter and early spring colour in almost any situation in the garden. Plants flower best in full sun, but will give satisfaction in partial shade. ‘Crimson and Gold’ is more compact than other varieties and an excellent for training against a wall. It has very deep red flowers with gold yellow anthers, followed by heavy crops of fragrant fruits.