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Best expert advice on growing evergreens

Blue flower of bluebell creeper amongst green foliage

Evergreens are ideal for anyone looking to create all year-round interest and structure in their garden. Lush and low-maintenance, these hardy plants fill gaps in beds and borders, and can also be used to form dense evergreen hedges that provide a whole host of benefits for humans and wildlife alike. You could even unleash your artistic side with topiary!

With so many varieties to choose from, we asked our favourite gardening bloggers for their top tips. Browse our full range of evergreen shrubs and trees for inspiration.


Best expert advice on using evergreens for all year round structure

Evergreen leaves with white edging
Evergreen trees and shrubs provide structure and interest throughout the seasons
Image: Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Variegatum’ from Suttons 

For year-round structure, evergreen trees come highly recommended by Jenny of Murphy’s Garden. These tall evergreens can be relied on to hold your garden together in the depths of winter when deciduous trees and other plants have lost their foliage. Watch Jenny’s video for advice on the ten best evergreen trees suitable for smaller gardens. Her top tip? “…Take your time and do a little bit of research to make sure you plant the right tree.”

As well as height and structure, evergreen trees can provide colourful foliage, flowers and berries throughout the year. Over at Down To Earth, Alan recommends Acacia pravissima for “masses of scented yellow blooms in spring,” and fast-growing Pittosporum if you’re looking for a tall hedge. Read his full article on small evergreen garden trees to find more of his special favourites. 

Over on YouTube, Raj of Urban Tropical loves evergreen shrubs for the colour and fragrance they bring to the garden. Many of her favourites, like callistemon, can also be grown into small trees. Watch the video to see its elegant arching branches of narrow foliage that support exotic pink, red or white bottlebrush flowers through the summer months. There’s something for everyone in Raj’s top ten.

Best expert advice on using evergreens in beds and borders

Evergreen leaves and white flowers of Choisya
This evergreen Choisya has brightly-coloured golden leaves
Image: Choisya ‘Goldfingers’ from Suttons

Fancy giving your garden a lush, tropical feel? George of George’s Jungle Garden particularly loves evergreen Trachycarpus palms which are happy in a cool, damp environment and grow well as long as they’re planted somewhere sheltered. Best of all, “even just having one palm…makes the other planting look incredibly tropical,” he enthuses! Watch George’s video to find out which other tropical-style evergreens he recommends.

If you are softening a garden layout with organic shapes such as curves, then plants with a naturally mounding form can work well,” says landscape designer @elkssmith. Take a peek at her gorgeous photo of a ‘curved’ garden which is built on a foundation of evergreen shrubs. It features lush grasses, evergreen hebes, Taxus baccata and “large shrubs such as Osmanthus armatus which can be pruned to give a lovely evergreen mounded form.” Helen Elks-Smith’s Instagram account is full of top garden design tips and inspirational photos!

Evergreen shrubs are ideal for plugging gaps, especially in darker corners where other things won’t grow. If you need a speedy solution, then read Barny’s article on fast-growing evergreen shrubs for shade over at The Jolly Gardener. From the glossy and aromatic leaves of Mexican Orange Blossom to the hot pink blooms of Camellia ‘Kanjiro’, there’s something for everyone in this treasure-trove of a list.

Best expert advice on using evergreens for privacy

Bee on viburnum tinus
The fragrant blooms of winter-flowering Viburnum are popular with pollinators
Image: Viburnum tinus from Suttons

Evergreens are a great way to ensure privacy, but there are a few things to consider before you start planting, advises Carol Bartlett at The Sunday Gardener. Fast-growing hedging plants require regular pruning to keep them to the desired height and width, and they “can also produce very dense shade.” Among her recommended fast-growing evergreen shrubs is Photinia ‘Red Robin’ – have a browse through her helpful list and pick your favourite!

Looking for unusual hedge plants? Evergreen bay and rosemary both make attractive and dense hedges and come highly recommended by our garden experts here at Suttons. What’s more, “the leaves are a welcome addition to many culinary dishes” – perfect for a kitchen garden! Find out what else the team recommends by reading the full article.

Bamboo is another excellent screening plant, and The Tropical Plant Guy’s Chris makes judicious use of it. Growing next to a phormium in his gorgeous Norfolk garden, the bamboo helps to create tropical evergreen haven that Chris describes as one of his “favourite places to stand and zone out”. Check out his special photos on Instagram for a taste of the tropics. 

Best expert advice on using evergreens as topiary

English yew hedging beyond purple flowers
English Yew is slow-growing and therefore ideal as hedging and topiary
Image: Taxus baccata (Yew) Plant from Suttons

“Topiary is something that we often associate with grand gardens, but actually it can make all the difference in small and middle-sized gardens because it provides shape and structure, especially in the winter.” Wise words from Alexandra Campbell of The Middlesized Garden, after she meets with head gardener Jim Treby to discuss the best evergreen shrubs for topiary. Watch the full video to find out what he recommends, and which plants are best avoided.

Down in the South West, designer Louise Dowding uses incredible topiary shapes to create garden-wide structure and interest. Head over to her Instagram account, @dowdinglouise, where you can admire “the full expanse of billowing topiary”. Louise’s breathtaking garden is an enchanting blend of carefully-crafted shapes, colourful flowers and organic vegetables, proving that you can have a garden that’s formal, functional and beautiful all at once.

In their garden in Shropshire, Brigette and Adam have created a dramatic topiary landscape. Check out their fantastic Insta reel over at @our.english.topiarygarden for ideas. Among the neat hedges and Buxus balls are some truly impressive yew sculptures – they look just like giant, majestic chess pieces! Follow their specialist topiary account for lots of evergreen inspiration.

As you can see, evergreens are amazingly versatile and quite easy to care for. We hope we’ve helped you to find the perfect variety for your own garden. Looking for a splash of colour? Check out our gorgeous selection of flowering shrubs and low-maintenance perennial plants and flowers. 

Lead image: Sollya heterophylla ‘Ultra Blue’ from Suttons/©Thompson & Morgan

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