Wednesday, 25 April 2012

When is a Shrub not a Shrub

I have an area in the garden that I refer to as a shrubbery. In my mind, shrubs are the backbone of the garden.  They give height to the borders - something to plant against and inbetween.  An all year round display of foliage, flowers and branches.  But I got to thinking - what is the difference between a shrub and a bush?  The definition of a bush is a group of small trees, small enough to touch the soil - while a shrub is a bit taller than a bush!!!

Another definition is a little woody plant, similar to a tree, but smaller. 

Berberis Shrub
 Bushes are almost always seen in the wild, whilst a shrub is pruned and taken care of.

Mahonia shrub
 Most often shrubs have denser undergrowth and may have many stems coming out from its base.  A bush is a thicket of small trees.

Generally bush is the technical name for a shrub.  All these definitions of the difference between shrub and bush are conflicting in my eyes - isn't it the case that they are exactly the same but for domestic gardens we call them shrubs.  But then again, we wouldn't call a Lilac a shrub - we say, Lilac bush, Rose bush  and Butterfly Bush. Confused !- so am I.

Lilac Bush
The Berberis and Mahonia are in full flower in the garden at the moment, the Lilac is not far off.
What shrubs/bushes are flowering in your garden ?


  1. not many unless you include all the fruit trees, many of which I grow as bushes. Most noticeable is a miniature Rhododendron, and also a white Camellia.

  2. I never know what to call them either. LOL! I guess my Rhododendrons are bushes since they hit the ground but I call them shrubs. I have lilac bushes which are shrubs. I am so confused. LOL!

  3. No matter the label, they're all beautiful.

    We have Hydrangea quercifolia in bloom, some tall enough to be trees, and tiny suckering bushes underneath.

  4. We have several shrubs about to flower but not quite there yet! Pineapple broom is almost ready, so too my ceanothus and a couple of roses have buds on.

  5. I'm really confused now. And just to confuse things even more, what's the difference between a rose bush and a shrub rose ?

  6. Nothing like being confused is there, which I certainly am!
    I've got a couple of rose bushes on the plot, but nothing that I'd call a shrub. Flighty xx

  7. That always confounded me too. We usually say shrub, I guess like you said, they are those cared for. But it gets confusing when garden plants are referred to as shrubs or bushes, like you mentioned.