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Sarcococcas


by James Alexander-Sinclair

Some words have more letters than are strictly necessary.


Some words have more letters than are strictly necessary: for example Krungthepmahanakornamornratanakosinmahintarayutthayamahadilokphopnop- paratrajathaniburiromudomrajaniwesmahasatharnamornphimarnavatarnsathit- sakkattiyavisanukamprasit, which is the name of a town in Thailand.

When it comes to plants, I'm thinking about the sarcococcas, which always strike me as slightly over generous with the letter ‘c’. This makes them difficult to spell, and pronouncing them makes you sound a bit like a crow with a speech impediment. However (and this is most important), this long-windedness shouldn't ever put you off the plants. They're among the very finest shrubs ever devised by whomsoever devises such things. Especially in winter, when their slightly spicy scent is capable of wafting many yards through the cold air.

There are lots of varieties, but to keep it simple my favourites are:

Sarcococca confusa: Evergreen shrub, quite small at about 1.5m high. Excellent in part or even full shade.

Sarcococca hookeriana: especially dignya Purple Stem, which is not just scented and evergreen like its chum, but also has the most delightful reddish young shoots.

Both produce black berries.

The other important thing about these shrubs is that they should always be planted close to entrances or paths: in particular paths that are frequently trodden during winter. There's no point in planting them where they can't be fully enjoyed and that means getting close enough to get the full scent experience. For this reason they're my perfect front garden plants.



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