by Hilary Thomas
November is the ideal month to take a critical look at your garden and check whether you have enough structural planting to hide bare fences in winter and provide a backdrop for more ornamental planting in summer. Structural plants are evergreen shrubs that are reliable and relatively fast growing, quickly establishing a green framework around the garden. There is a wide choice of shrubs, but choose ones that have plain green foliage and to create interest, select plants with different sized leaves. If they have flowers or berries then this is a bonus. Any of the following shrubs will add interest and structure to your garden.
Choisya ternata must be one of the most reliable shrubs. It has glossy aromatic foliage and scented white flowers in spring and autumn. It can also be used to make an attractive informal hedge.
The leaves of Elaeagnus x ebbingei are glossy green above and silvery underneath. It is very hardy and produces small fragrant flowers in autumn.
Pittosporum tenuifolium is a real gem with small wavy-edged leaves and there are several equally reliable cultivars with foliage in various shades of green.
The thick apple green leaves of Griselinia littoralis provide a real contrast in colour when planted next to a dark green shrub.
Osmanthus heterophyllus has small holly like leaves and is great for Christmas wreaths as it is less prickly than holly. It produces small fragrant flowers in autumn. Photinia x fraseri ‘Red Robin’ has a good open habit and the new foliage is bright red maturing to dark green. Regular pruning ensures a constant array of new foliage.