First Class Hardy Evergreen Shrubs
April 1, 2021

By Kate and Len Lucas

These plants are rather special because not only do they have leaves all year round but they also bring that feeling of permanence, maturity and structure. Many professional garden designers use them for that very reason. They are a bit more expensive and some can take a little time to make their presence felt so be patient. 

The ten we have chosen will need very little attention other than clipping or pruning to keep them in balance with the rest of the garden and happily grow in our garden today. 

Osmanthus heterophyllus “variegata”. Looks like holly but much more attractive and compact. We bought ours from a local garden centre several years ago for £5 each and after a few years reached the top of the fence. It’s easy to prune and it looks the same on Christmas Day as it does in the middle of summer. 

Choisya “Sundance”. Mexican Orange Blossom. This is a real belter! The new leaves are dazzling sunshine yellow. It can scorch a bit in too much sun, so a position with some shade would suit it.

Mahonia “Sweet Winter”. The Mahonias we have grown in the past all had very prickly leaves except this one. We have had it a few years and whilst it doesn’t look anything like a Mahonia it does look really well, even a bit tropical.

Viburnum davidii. With its dark green leathery leaves, this Viburnum makes a superb low growing spreading shrub. Believe it or not, you will often see it used for landscaping around supermarkets and public spaces because they cover the ground and are trouble-free.

Cryptomeria japonica “Sekkan-sugi” The Japanese Golden Cedar, a conifer. We think this is one of the finest plants you could ever choose for your garden. Although it is a tree it will take years to grow to maturity and in the meantime, you can enjoy the sulphur-yellow of the needles especially in the spring when it brings a wonderful warm glow to the garden. If somebody asks you what would you like for your garden as a present, this is it. 

Thuya plicata “Whipcord”. This is also a conifer and we think is best in a pot because of the long trailing stems. Ours is in a pot about three feet tall and the stems have nearly reached the ground. It is an outstanding, beautiful plant.

Euonymus fortunei “Emerald n Gold” More often than not this is grown as a normal shrub, and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, it can be trained up fencing or trellis with a bit of help. And that is exactly what we have done with the two we have and both have reached six feet.   

Aucuba japonica. Spotted laurel. This is a much better-looking plant than normal laurel. The golden markings on the leaves make it really stand out on the border. 

Euphorbia x pasteurii. We have mentioned this plant in a previous article (Must Have Perennials) and here is why. It really does bring the tropics into a garden and all year round at that. We have one we can see from the kitchen in a corner where trellis and fence meet, and even now it looks terrific.

Elaeagnus x erbbingii “Limelight”. This is the variegated form and we think looks better than the all green type. We do get some new growth which is all green, called reversion, which is easy to prune out and doesn’t harm the plant.

All of these plants should be available in any good garden centre.