Continuing this week with a profile of plants for winter interest which also perform well in the shade, we have Skimmia Japonica Rubella
Tough as old boots and not bad looking if you focus your eyes in a manner that doesn’t expect to be blown away. This popular evergreen plant in Summer has glossy green leaves followed by deep red flower buds in Autumn which look very attractive right through till the end of Winter. Spring arrives and you are treated to creamy white panicles of scented flowers.
The picture below shows how it is looking in mid February. The yellowing of the leaves which you see is often an indication that the soil is not quite acidic enough. I will try a top dressing of ericaceous compost to see if that helps.
This problem with Skimmias can also occur if planted in a position which gets too much sun.
Listing every plant we have grown over the past forty years may well include the good the bad and, well I don’t think any are exactly ugly but I will draw a line at the unwanted, like say, dandelions!
This list is fairly taking shape, have a look at my page (A to Z of our plants) those with a plant title beside the thumbnail opens up to my post on that particular plant.
Back to our rather good Skimmia, the flowers in Spring are somewhat attractive although I think they look best in bud come Autumn/ Winter.
Position your Skimmia in semi shade for best results, although they seem to do pretty well in full shade .add some ericaceous compost to the soil and also top dress with this if it happens to be on the alkaline side.
*** Pruning ***
Just after the flowers have gone over in Spring is the time to prune. Do bear in mind, this is a slow growing plant and all you should really do is cut back the dead flower heads, which will prepare it for producing those striking buds for Autumn and Winter.
Normally you will see Skimmia at their very best in the garden centres in Autumn/early Winter. They have been grown and pruned to give the very best display of these Winter buds like the one below, I have started taking my camera with me when visiting garden centres.
Rubella being the male form will of course not have berries, you will have to plant a female form also if this is what you have in mind.
• Hardiness – Fully hardy
• Height – Eventual height 110 cm looks best kept much shorter
• Position – Partial/full shade
• Soil – Moist, free draining, fertile, best on the acidic side.
*** Skimmia japonica rubella ***
About three months ago we were quite taken by the fact that we spotted a fox in the garden. Having been a first, it didn’t occur to us that it could be a nuisance, in fact we added it to our garden visitors list and prided ourselves as being in tune with the environment.
We spotted it another couple of times in the next few weeks. No sign of digging up bulbs or the like so we still felt unconcerned.
I know foxes get bad press and there was a dreadful case not so long ago when a fox entered a house through an open back door and mauled a baby in its cot. Very concerning for those living in big cities like London where there is said to be something in the region of ten thousand urban foxes.
We still couldn’t help ourselves from feeling sorry for him a couple of weeks ago when he turned up thirsty, hungry and badly injured. Crippling badly he had great difficulty getting out of the garden, the RSPCA have been trying to catch him.