Plant of the month: laurustinus

Shrugging off the cold with bright green leaves and fresh white flowers, this Mediterranean shrub flourishes even in dull British winters

Viburnum tinus 'Lucidum'As the days shorten through December lots of people are tempted to retreat indoors to the warm but there are lots of plants still braving the cold, dark days and flowering their hearts out. A great example of a shrub looking fantastic at this time of year is Viburnum tinus ‘Lucidum’.
 
This medium to large evergreen shrub makes a vigorous, bushy plant and this cultivar has distinctly smooth, glossy leaves. As well as being grown for its year-round foliage interest, this shrub also flowers for a long period; normally from late winter until  spring, but in milder areas it starts flowering in early winter and carries on right through until late spring.

Each individual flower is about 1cm across, and they are held in flattened heads 10cm across. This cultivar’s flowers are slightly larger than most of the other cultivars of this genus and they look great set against the glossy dark green leaves. Through early summer attractive blue-black fruits then form after the flowers have faded.
 
Viburnum tinus is a very easy shrub to grow and tolerates a wide range of soil conditions from heavy clay to light sandy soils but it prefers humus-rich, well-drained soil. It also prefers an open sunny position but it will tolerate part shade, and it suffers from very few pest and diseases. It is a vigorous shrub and therefore needs regular pruning (after flowering) to keep it in shape. If it has got too big for its position it can also be hard pruned in early spring to rejuvenate and re-shape it.

Easy virtues

As an easy to grow, evergreen shrub, Viburnum tinus is a very useful plant to use in the garden as it is so adaptable and works particularly well in a difficult spot or in a mixed border where evergreen interest and structure is required throughout the year. Here at Hyde Hall, Viburnum tinus ‘Lucidum’ can be found in a border by the Modern Rose Garden in the Hilltop Garden where it combines with other shrubs such as Choisya ‘Aztec Pearl’ as well as grasses such as Molina caerulea ‘Windspiel’ and perennials such as Hylotelephium ‘Herbstfreude’ (formerly known as Sedum 'Autumn Joy').

At Hyde Hall we use Viburnum tinus quite extensively through the garden including many of its other cultivars such as ‘Gwenllian’ which has pink-flushed white flowers, ‘French White’ which has pure white flowers that look fantastic set against the dark green foliage and ‘Purpureum’ which has young foliage tinged dark purple.

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