Evergreens for leaf alone


The Victorians loved evergreens and they planted Aucuba japonica widely. Familiarity shouldn’t breed contempt though, for the all-green leaves of ‘Rozannie’ are a high gloss rich green and red berries also follow. These long-lived shrubs grow far faster than holly and create the same effect and they tolerate deep shade. There are splashed aucubas too, such as ‘Crotonifolia’ that can light up dank corners.

Or you could use another Victorian favourite, Viburnum tinus, an evergreen viburnum with pretty sprays of pink buds that open to white. ‘Eve Price’ forms a good roundel or there is a newer red-budded form called ‘Lisarose’.

Red and green set each other off, adding extra winter warmth. In late winter the new foliage of Photinia x fraseri ‘Red Robin’ emerges a brilliant scarlet, so it really stands out strongly. This is a shrub that tolerates shade too. The new Dutch-bred ‘Magical Vulcano’ has even redder foliage and the leaves have fringed edges, which gives it an interesting twist. A subtler blend of green and red can be seen on Portuguese laurel (Prunus lusitanica), with linear green leaves held on red stems. This can be used as hedging, but it also can be clipped to form cubes, cones and roundels and it’s very underrated. It looks divine in winter.