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Cotoneasters: the hardy perennial that will look great in your garden all year round

If you’re looking for plants for your garden this year, and you would prefer something hardy and striking that will give you year-round interest and colour, then one plant that Ladybrook Nursery can highly recommend for your garden is the humble cotoneaster. Granted it may not be the showiest of plants, but it’s reliable and, if planted correctly, it will earn its keep all year round.

Cotoneasters are generally easy plants to grow. They’re not fussy about which type of soil they grow in: in fact, they seem to thrive in most situations. That’s probably why they are such a firm favourite for amenity planting. These versatile shrubs can be grown, and will thrive, in any sunny or part- shaded position in the garden. If there’s one requirement for your cotoneaster it’s this: make sure the plant is sheltered from strong winds.

Which cotoneaster is right for your garden?

The good news is there’s a cotoneaster for every situation, whether you’re looking for a low-growing plant for ground cover, or an arching shrub to grace a boundary wall. Cotoneasters may not be particularly showy or blousy, but their flowers will keep bees and insects happy throughout spring and summer. When autumn arrives the cotoneaster’s berries will attract and feed the birds too.

Deciduous cotoneaters like C. horizontalis, also known as the fishbone cotoneaster, have brilliant red autumn colour and retain their berries on their branches for a long time. Evergreen and semi- evergreen cotoneasters like C. ‘John Waterer’ – a particularly beautiful variety that grows into a tall rounded shrub, retain their leaves and the foliage makes a perfect foil for the clusters of berries. Alternatively the evergreen C. dammeri remains small but spreads to cover several metres eventually. In areas of box blight C. franchetti also makes a great substitute hedge.

Which cotoneaster will produce the best berries?

C.horizontalis: use as round cover or train vertically. Masses of berries on fishbone stems. Height 60cm: spread 2 metres

C.salicifolius ‘Exburiensis’: Willow-like evergreen leaves and pale pink-tinged berries that last. Height and spread 1.2 metres.

C, Conspicuus ‘Decorus’: Brilliant red berries cling to criss-crossed bare stems in winter. Height 20cm and spread up to 1.2 metres

C. ‘Coral Beauty’: Low-growing evergreen shrub with lots of orange-red berries. Height 1 metre and spread 2 metres.

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