Also known as Christmas box, these are not shrubs to consign to any old corner of your garden just because they will tolerate deep shade. On the contrary, they are a great choice to plant against the north side of your home, or next to a path, or by the front or back door (whichever is the shadiest) – anywhere, in fact, where you will catch its sweet scent on the chill winter air.
This neat evergreen with its narrow, shiny, mid-green leaves is one of those quiet February pleasures that is so welcome at this time of the year. The densely packed reddish-purple stems bear an abundance of restrained white flowers that are flushed with pink; they are in fact little more than a collection of stamens and stigmas, but they more than fit the bill.
This sarcococca is similar to, but at the same time distinct from, S confusa which we also grow – the latter’s flowers are pure white, and some will argue that this one has the better fragrance – take it from me that they are both winter beauties and it’s just a matter of personal preference. They both grow to about 5’ high and the same across.
In order to keep ours within bounds, I clip it quite hard after flowering, almost as topiary; however, left unpruned, it is an elegant shrub with great foliage for winter flower arrangements.
NB Louise has published a beautifully produced book of her plant profiles – A Plant for Each Week of the Year. It costs £9.99 and is for sale in our online shop here.
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Even more NB: You can see our latest post on Early Spring bulbs here