February 25, 2013

Plant of the month – Sarcococca confusa

Sarcococca confusa has gained popularity within garden design circles over the last few years and quite right too as it is a plant with much to offer. A member of the buxaceae family, it is directly related to buxus sempervirens and like common box it will grow in a wide variety of environments from difficult ie dry shade to easy ie moist and free draining soil in full sun.Sarcococca confusa

With its green glossy leaves it would be a prime candidate for planting under the canopy of a well established tree where little else would stand a chance of thriving. You can’t topiarise it like common box, but it will never suffer from blight and if you just need a loose form in a nasty spot, it’s pretty well perfect.

sarcococca 5

Sarcococca confusa, hookeriana and ruscifolia all flower from December to March and offer an intense vanilla fragrance, lifting the spirits in drear winter months. You’ll often find this plant located close to entrances to buildings, along path ways or around a seating area as these are all locations where you can enjoy their heady scent. The flower is followed by a glossy black berry offering interest through the summer.

sarcococca 6

Why not use sarcococca confusa in a similar way to common box. As it grows quickly it will tolerate regular pruning so for example, imagine you need to specify some planting for planters in a shady communal courtyard, you could use it as an edging plant within the planter which might also help to retain and prop up the larger hydrangea arborescens ‘annabelle’. The combination of the two plants works very well as sarcococca takes centre stage after the showy hydrangea has been pruned back.