Sarcococca ruscifolia is the second Sarcococca to feature in our series on winter flowering hedges. The genus is native to eastern and southeastern Asia and the Himalayas but is perfectly at home in our temperate climate.
Related plants, just like related humans, will share certain characteristics and the 20 species of Sarcococca are no exception – the vast majority has the enviable attribute of being winter flowering so it is no surprise that our second post on the subject should be Sarcococca ruscifolia...
Sarcococca confusa AGM may start flowering a little earlier in December rather than in January, but Sarcococca ruscifolia still brings a subtle, unexpected vanilla-like fragrance to the colder months of winter. Its leaves are unmistakeably Sarcococca – slender, glossy and dark green. They grow to an impressive, and perfectly proportioned, 6cm. It arguably wins the berry wars against confusa, but only if you prefer a rich, dark crimson to black.
In all other ways, Sarcococca ruscifolia shares the same attributes. It’s hardy, resilient and unfussy when it comes to both soil and location – just offer it some protection against strong winds. And if that protection happens to be a wall, then this plant makes an excellent espalier to grow against it without any danger to the masonry. Otherwise, it fulfills all the more usual functions of a versatile, easy-to-maintain hedging plant. It will make a statement, is delightfully fragrant and can also be used for edging.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that Sarcococca ruscifolia – and others in the genus –share some of the antibacterial properties of Witchhazel and the plant does feature in the Chinese herbal pharmacopeia. However, until proper trials are conducted, better just to enjoy it in the garden and flower arrangements. Time may well yet show that it has other tricks up its sleeve.