This selection of shrubs is chosen specifically for the poor, thin, acid soils common on the upper parts of the Howth Penninsula. The two we have selected below are at their best this month.
Daphne bholua “Jacqueline postill”
Originating in the eastern Himalayas, Daphne bholua forms an upright growing evergreen shrub with leathery mid-green oval leaves. ‘Jaqueline Postill’ produces intensely fragrant flowers which are pink on the outside and white within. It will thrive on any fertile free draining soils provided they are not too dry. It makes an ideal shrub for the small garden because it is quite slow growing and flowers during the late winter when most other plants are dormant. Daphnes hate transplanting and should only be pruned when absolutely necessary.
Male forms of Garrya elliptica are impressive plants when laden with their long elegant tassels in winter and early spring. Female plants have much smaller catkins and clusters of round deep purple fruits in summer. ‘James Roof’ is the most popular variety because its tassels are much longer than the species, 20-30cm (10in)ong and lasting for many weeks, making a striking backdrop to other smaller plants. The shrubs are nominally hardy, although without the shelter of a warm wall some foliage might suffer wind scorch, and are unaffected by salt winds and city air. The Royal Horticultural Society has given it its prestigious Award of Garden Merit (AGM).