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Three Specimen Shrubs chosen by plant-hunter Lark Hanham

Aside from utilising hard landscaping, such as arbors and fences, sometimes a garden can appear one dimensional and characterless, however take head from the avid 18th century plant hunters, who collected weird and wonderful specimens from their far-afield travels, to use in the gardens of landed gentry to symoblise their wealth through pure vegetative indulgence. Unlike herbaceous perennials which will die down each year, a shrub is often woody stemmed, free-standing plant, which once applied, will provide your garden with a treasure trove of impact and continual form. Consideration, to ensure your chosen shrubs provide your garden with an ever-evolving bone structure is paramount. Opt for specimens which will offer differing heights and flowering times to create a sense of variety, and remember, without a specimen shrub, your garden will struggle to lift the eye and engulf you entirely. 

Colutea x media 'Copper Beauty'

Colutea x media 'Copper Beauty'

This unusual Fabaceae family plant will bring a little “je ne sais quoi” to your garden. Not only is it rarely seen in the UK, its remarkable copper-blushed, pea-shaped flowers arrive on marron angular stems in their droves through summer and continue to decorate the glaucous deciduous pinnate leaves well into September. Its inflated bladder-like seedpods bring an interactive playful existence, particularly appreciated by young children; whom like to pop them between their fingers. Very drought tolerant and able to grow in poor well-drained soil. Height and spread 3m.

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Heptacodium miconioides AGM

Heptacodium miconioides AGM Credit: © Visions BV, Netherlands / ~Plants in Focus/Plants in Focus

This award-winning Chinese originating beauty comes to the foreground in late summer, where its glowing, brilliant-white fragrant blooms arrive. Its seven in every cluster, are produced in autumn, and although the petals fall with the first frosts, the calyxes remain and darken to burgundy to give stunning winter colour. Scarlet berries may also follow too, nestling against dark red branches, while the older bark is textured and grey. Height 5m and spread 2.4m. 

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Clerodendrum bungee

Clerodendrum bungei Credit: GAP Photos/J S Sira

Flourishing in gardens now is this is the perfect small tree for a tropical inspired garden. Its extra-large heart-shaped deciduous leaves first emerge purple and mature to a dark green which make the perfect backdrop to its domed clustered scarlet buds. Flowering from July to October, its bright pink fragrant, starburst-like blooms appear in neat spheres and smother its canopy and contrasting against it coal-black stems. Originally from China, this Clerodendrum is hardy, but prefers a sheltered semi-shaded spot. Height and spread 2.4m.

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How to buy

Buy Lark’s Three Specimen Shrubs

Buy one 9cm pot for £12 or buy the mix of three for £20 and save £16 or buy the mix of six for only £36 (Half price). Plus P&P at £4.95. Supplied as 9cm plants in 14 days*. Order at or call 0333 772 0325. Your contract for the supply of goods is with Hayloft Plants Ltd. *Offers subject to availability. Offer closing date is October 29, 2019.

Offer closing date October 29th, 2019.