Brighten up your garden this winter with a Skimmia Japonica!

Skimmias are evergreen shrubs that are extremely valuable for their multi-season displays, especially in winter. They are a species originating from the Himalayas, China, Japan and South East Asia, flowering early over winter, so are a good plant to give colour and fragrance when there is little else.

Skimmia japonica is a small shrub that during the winter produces long lasting clusters of bright pillar box red berries, these are nestled amongst its dark evergreen leaves. Spring is celebrated by this hard working skimmia with deliciously fragrant white flowers as seen in the picture above.

Most skimmia varieties are either male or female, so you need to grow two different varieties, to ensure the females produce their bright red berries. There are some hermaphrodite, self-fertile varieties, so only 1 plant is needed for fruit to develop, although even these will produce more fruit if a male is grown close by. Skimmia japonica Rubella is a good choice for a male partner, as it is the most attractive, with lovely dark red flower buds in winter as seen in the picture below.

For the best display, plant skimmia in full sun or partial shade, in any soil, although a rich, moist, but well drained spot is best - plants may become chlorotic on very poor, dry soil. Add plenty of organic matter to the planting hole to give plants a boost. Plants need no real pruning, a simple, light trim after flowering will help keep plants in shape - skimmia almost thrive on neglect so are ideal plants for low maintenance gardeners! They also cope well with pollution making them good plants for city & courtyard gardens.

For best results plant them in flower borders and beds, patio containers, cottage & informal gardens, woodland gardens. This plant is perfect for lighting up a shady spot in your garden or at the front of a border. They are also a perfect ingredient in seasonal containers and make lovely Christmas pots by the front door.