What’s in the box?

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Exciting times: the plants arrive

From the outset of the project it has been my plan to get hold of some shrubs; to give the rooftop garden a good start, ecologically speaking.  On a rooftop shrubs are a good stand in for trees, as they will grow in less soil and save weight, but share some of the positive attributes.  Shrubs provide year round shelter for birds, many produce berries, and they can also be used to create a small canopy when underplanted with shade tolerant perennials.     

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Through a tangle of blackthorn

It soon became apparent that there would be few donations of spare shrubs; they are not the kind of thing you just have lying around. It was either do without or spend some money. After much shopping around a decent selection of large sized shrubs, hedging and climbers has been acquired for a reasonable sum.

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A good selection of 5 and 7 litre shrubs, some bareroot blackthorn and a small dog rose

After a week’s delay the parcel arrived earlier today and unravelling the contents was fun.  There’s still just enough time to get the plants into pots over the next week or so, providing there is no sudden cold snap.

Berberis darwinii, barberry – a spiky evergreen that flowers in April and May that produces nectar not only highly attractive to bees but also to butterflies and moths, whose caterpillars find shelter in the shrub’s dense foliage. 

Cotoneaster lacteus, late cotoneaster – a drought tolerant evergreen that flowers prolifically in June, providing an excellent source or nectar, before producing red berries that are good late season food source for birds. 

Prunus spinosa, blackthorn – one of the most gorgeous and edible native hedgerow shrubs, it produces masses of tiny white flowers on bare twigs from late March onwards.  Dark purple sloe fruits, similar to those of the cultivated plum, appear in late summer and are food for blackbirds, robins, crows, magpies and starlings.

Rosa canina, dog rose – the quintessential wild and rambling rose found in traditional hedgerows, which produces delicate pink flowers from June through to August.  It is attractive to bees, beetles and files, and produces rosehips in early autumn that are eaten by blackbirds, robins, blue tits, greenfinches and wood pigeons.

Rosmarinus officianalis, rosemary – the popular Mediterranean evergreen is known for its drought tolerance but it is also hardy enough to stand up winter wet and cold.  It flowers prolifically in May through to June and is much visited by bees, butterflies and hoverflies.

Viburnum tinus, laurustinus a useful large evergreen shrub that remains in flower from December through to April.  The small white flowers, which are attractive to bees, are followed by bluish-black fruits eaten by birds.

    

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