Osmanthus decorus

Readers of my January newsletter may well be wondering about Osmanthus decorus, the shrub I mentioned.

This handsome evergreen is from the Caucasus, home of a great many garden plants, and I rate it highly, not only for its sweetly scented white spring flowers but for its generally understated style. As you can see from the picture, the leaves, presented flat, are substantial in texture but elegantly tapering – and unblemished by disease. They are somewhat similar to those of a rhododendron, but without the droop. And, also unlike the rhodos, this plant tolerates lime, with none of the yellowing of the leaves that can afflict some other evergreens.

The spring flowers of Osmanthus decorus, while not showy, have a sweet scent that carries through the garden

In a nice open – but sheltered – situation, the plant would probably grow as a neat dome. Shaded as it is in my garden, some of the branches are starting to stretch out uncomfortably, spoiling the shape. I’ll be giving it a prune to bring it into line after it has flowered.

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