Shrubs with Unique Architecture

Some years back, I received a call from Gary Koller, a well-respected garden designer in the Boston area. Gary urged me to find and offer more shrubs with narrow, columnar growth habits. In his opinion, we needed plants with a smaller footprint that took up less space in the landscape. He also felt these shrubs added interesting architecture to gardens. The trend toward smaller home lots dictates the need for smaller and/or narrower shrubs. After all, who has the space for a Spiraea x ‘Vanhouttei’ in their garden anymore?

Narrower shrubs have another great benefit; they require less care and maintenance. Growers spend less time spacing and pruning them which saves them money. Homeowners also benefit from these shrubs as they save them both time and effort. Berberis t. ‘Helmond Pillar’, Sunjoy™ Gold Pillar (Berberis t. ‘Maria’), Buxus sempervirens ‘Graham Blandy’, Sky Pointer™ (Ilex crenata ‘Farrowone’), Castle Wall™ (Ilex x meserveae ‘Hechenstar’) and Fine Line® (Rhamnus frangula ‘Ron Williams’) are a few narrow plants that have seen increased popularity over the last few years. I suspect this trend will continue.

Fine Line Rhamnus


  1. I also like buckthorn or tall hedge for their upright habits.

  2. Anonymous6:26 PM

    Never plant buckthorn - it is incredibly invasive! Communities spend thousands of dollars to rid this pest from nature preserves, parks and roadsides. Buckthorn crowds out native plants and decreases plant diversity. Plant barberry, arbor vitae or sumac in its place.

  3. Fine Line Buckthorn is not invasive. There are university studies to back it up. As for your recommendation to plant barberry, I would say it depends upon where you live - as it is considered invasive in certain parts of the country. Sumac while being native (I assume you are speaking of our native species, Rhus typhina, Rhus glabra, Rhus copollinum)these can be invasive plants as well.

  4. Thanks for your postings! What is this gorgeous upright evergreen? It popped up, fleetingly, on your site when I searched for boxwood images, but I can't identify what it is. Thanks. Here's a link:

  5. The plant you saw was Helmond's pillar Barberry.


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