Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sarcococca hookeriana (maybe).....a particularly nice accession

Look at those leaves!

I like the shorter Sarcococcas, Himalayan Sweet box, much more in theory than I do in the garden. They seem like such a perfect groundcover: a short dark green evergreen sub-shrub with fragrant flowers in the late winter or early spring. The problem is that most plantings have significant areas that are bleached, chlorotic, or yellowed for whatever reason. I must have passed this bed a thousand times and never paid enough attention to it to see that it's much nicer than your average Sarcococca. And different: the leaves that live on red/maroon twigs are darker, longer, narrower, glossier, and unmarred by any hint of yellow. It would be wonderful if this was a genetic trait but this planting is our sole representation of accession 66751 so maybe it's just growing in a perfect location. And it is growing in a very good location with shade, drainage, and adequate water.

It was wild collected in Shaanxi, China in 1996 by Kevin Conrad et alii including Rick Lewandowski. The collection notes hint at what I've come to believe are the optimum growing conditions, "Dense shade on a well drained ledge; 70% NE slope; humusy loam, deep organic surface layer;" In other words, rich organic soil and perfect drainage in deep shade....Aha!

Today I took a flat full of cuttings (it's in the boxwood family and the whole family roots....well, really easily) so we can try them in different sites and see how well it does. Stay tuned.


MulchMaid said...

How gratifying to learn that our Sarcococca hookeriana var. humilis are planted in an optimum place: our deeply shaded brick planter along the house. They are certainly rewarding us with dark lush foliage.

Good luck with the cuttings!

Mary Gray said...

I just planted some Sarc. this summer...I keeping my fingers crossed that it gets through the winter looking green and glossy and not all washed out. The plants in your pics are absolutely gorgeous!