The Tribune - Spectrum

Sunday, September 3, 2000
Garden Life

Drape your garden in a riot of colour
By Satish Narula

AT certain times of the year, gardens display a riot of colours, mostly contributed by seasonal or annual plants. But the bonanza is short-lived, and there is a long gap thereafter. However, to fill the void, there are shrubs with their glorious display of blooms that last for a longer period and, if judiciously selected, put forth blooms one after the other.

Cassia alata bears bright yellow flowers at the ends of its twigs.Unlike the plants that flower in summer and winter, the shrubs are planted only once, and are least demanding. These are hardy in nature, and take pruning well if the need is to contain them. This character of some of the shrub species has been exploited to create excellent topiary. The more you clip or subject such plants to pruning, the more dense they become. Since shrubs are also favoured for ornamental foliage, they are a source of great pleasure to the planter. Some of the shrubs are a favourite with Ikebana lovers for there is no dearth of material for decoration as these shrubs are found in plenty.

A list of such shrubs is too exhaustive and far beyond the scope of this write up, but besides bougainvillaea, mussaenda, Iscora, poinsettia, Euphorbia etc., there are others that have not been exploited.

Calliandra is liked both for its graceful foliage and beautiful powder-puff-like flowers that appear in abundance. They come in crimson, red or pure white, and completely envelope the shrub twice a year. The one with pinkish powderpuff-like flowers does well even in slight shade.

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Lagerstromia shrub at its bestIf you are looking for a shrub that bears flowers in abundance, and almost throughout the year, then go in for Caesalpinia pulcherrina, commonly called gulmohri. The shrub grows to a height of two to three metres, and bears scarlet or orange red flowers. Since its flowers appear at the top of the twigs, the plant is also called ‘peacock flower’.

There are certain hedge plants which are associated with the hills. They usually grow in Solan or Chail, but with a little care you can grow some in the plains too. Hydrangea is one such shrub. It bears pink or blue flowers. Those who understand the ways to derive the best out of this plant prune it in such a way that it forms a ball on the ground. When flowers appear it looks like a big ball in bloom. In the plains, it should be planted at a place where it gets only the full morning sun. Otherwise it should be under the shade of a medium high-crowned tree.

There are shrubs like Cassia alata which bear bright yellow flowers at the ends of its twigs. The bunches stand erect and are the gardeners’ delight.

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This feature was published on August 27, 2000