The majority, if not all of the glorious flowering shrubs we are able to grow in our gardens here have been introduces from other countries, including Oleander that has ‘escaped’ and is frequently found growing along streams and riverbanks. The list of flowering shrubs grown in our region is long and I’m only featuring some of those most widely and commonly grown, with reference to their attractiveness to wildlife or otherwise.
Bougainvillea – Bougainvillea glabra
Flowering: February – October
Bougainvillea originates from South America. It is a familiar, widely-planted and vigorous climber that is equipped with rather vicious thorns. The magenta ‘glabra’ in the photograph is probably the most commonly planted and is the hardiest of the species; it is also the parent of several other varieties.
The colourful parts of the plant are leaf-like bracts that surround the rather insignificant whitish-yellowish flowers that are funnel-shaped and grow in threes.
The shrub is not particularly favoured by insects, but I have occasionally seen Hummingbird Hawk Moth, Violet Carpenter Bee and small hoverflies taking its nectar.
Hibiscus rosa-sinensis – Hibiscus, Rose of China, Shoeflower
Flowering: Almost all year round, but most prolific from June to September/October
The hibiscus shrub has its origin in China, although a wide range of the modern-day plants are mainly bred in Hawaii. It is a hugely popular, exotic-looking shrub that has glossy green leaves; it is also large and can reach 3m.
The flowers each only last for a day or so, but fresh ones are continuously produced. Petals are large, 60-80mm long and there is a prominent protruding red staminal column and stigmas. The most commonly seen colour is red, but other shades include white, cream, pink, apricot, salmon, yellow and even multi-coloured.
This is another shrub that is not much-frequented by insects seeking nectar, but Blue Tits sometimes investigate the flowers, so perhaps insects use them as hiding places.