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.
A handsome species from China and Taiwan, although plants are now only found in cultivation, this is one of the most popular winter-flowering evergreen shrubs. It makes a bold, colourful highlight when its remarkable leaves, up to 40cm (16in) long, glow rich reddish-purple in the winter garden, followed before the spring by the long terminal clusters of lemon-yellow blooms which smell of lily-of-the-valley. Plants withstand shade, but need some protection from frost and wind to avoid leaf and bud scorch. Flowers last well in water when cut. The Royal Horticultural Society has given it its prestigious Award of Garden Merit (AGM).
Also known as X Osmarea burkwoodii, this high-quality shrub is a hybrid between two equally superb species, O. decorus and O. delavay, long cultivated as specimen shrubs and durable hedging. Their hybrid combines all their best qualities dense foliage and bushy growth, making a solid hedge or screen in less exposed gardens. Its attractive dark colouring is ideal as a background, and the white, pretty, jasmine-like flowers have a sweet fragrance that carries for great distances. Protect from cold north-east winds which can scorch the foliage. The Royal Horticultural Society has given it its prestigious Award of Garden Merit (AGM).