Examples of shrubs are cornus, eleagnus, euonymus, camellia, box, forsythia, ribes, conifers (a delightful one is zebrina berberis), eucalyptus, griselenia, choisya, cotinus, aucuba (spotted laurel), skimia, photinia, and corylus contarta. These are a few of the must haves!! No room here for detailed descriptions, so consult a good gardening book or surf the net.
Colour is very important. Planning borders in green, cream and yellow; in red, orange and bronze and in blue, silver and white will give borders with attitude and plenty of cutting material.
Examples of suitable plants are hosta, artemesia, alchemilla mollis, ferns, phormiums, sedums, summer bulbs (all kinds), irises, hebes, bergenia, skimmia, hellebores.
It is worth planning to have at least one stunning plant for every month e.g.
October ...Clematis rehderiana,
November ..Mahonia japonica,
December/January ..Sarcococca confusa and Hammamelis,
February .. Lonicera fragrantissima.
These are all sweetly scented. There should be no excuse not to enter Frenchay Flower Show with these in your borders!
Whether buying or cutting your own, do not mix Narcissi and Daffs with other flowers straight away. The slime that comes out of newly cut stems is toxic to other flowers and needs washing away. First cut stems roughly to length and stand them in their own container of water for 24hours. Rinse stems in fresh water and then mix with other flowers.
Tulips have a mind of their own. They will change position in an arrangement overnight. Bendy tulips and anemones will straighten using the following method. Make a tight bunch with flowers facing in towards centre and roll it round with newspaper. Cut an inch off the bottom of the stems and stand the bunch in a bucket containing 3-4 inches of tepid water. Keep bucket in the dark and 24 hours later they should be standing perfectly straight and stay straight. Promise.