Phillyrea angustifolia

It’s time I put in a plug for one of my all-time favourite plants, Phillyrea angustifolia – there’s no common name, this is one of those instances where you just have to get your head round the Latin. Like box (Buxus), this evergreen shrub tolerates hard pruning, and was often used in combination with box in 17th-century knot gardens. But it makes a much more open, elegant plant.

Phillyrea

Phillyrea angustifolia has firm, flame like leaves that are apparently disease proof

Angustifolia means ‘with narrow leaves’, and if you thought they looked like those of an olive (but green), you’d be on to something – the two plants are indeed related. But unlike the olive, the phillyrea is bone hardy. I have two, planted as a pair that herald the start of a path that leads down my garden.

I am particularly attached to them – I bought them at Rosemary Verey’s garden near Cirencester some twenty years ago. Maybe some of the magic of that place lives on in my garden. Mrs Verey speculated that the plant’s lack of a common name had much to do with its fall from favour – that and the difficulties of propagating it. Apparently, cuttings have to be of two-year-old wood and taken in November – that’s now, isn’t it?

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