Gloom busters

FORGET THE FLOWERS: Elaeagnus are grown for their leaves rather than for their tiny white blooms.

FORGET THE FLOWERS: Elaeagnus are grown for their leaves rather than for their tiny white blooms.

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England is a green and pleasant land but it’s rarely a land of sunshine; after Brexit, some would say it’s now a land of doom and gloom but think positive.

People normally feel better, brighter when there’s some sunshine to enjoy. The same applies for the majority of plants –there aren’t many shrubs which bloom well without sunlight, but what few there are should be treasured.

Any flowering plant capable of thriving in shade or partial shade is worth its weight in gold.

But if you are prepared to have mainly foliage-inspired plantings, then the list suddenly expands.

So for those dark and sometimes dismal spots facing north and west or shadowed by a neighbour’s leylandii consider the likes of Elaeagnus, which are grown for their leaves rather than for their flowers.

E pungens ‘Maculata’ is a hardy evergreen with yellow-splashed foliage, while E ebbingei has the added attraction of having downy leaves. Both come with the added benefit of being hardy beasts.

Lonicera nitida (preferably ‘Baggesen’s Gold) is another sunny-foliaged shrub, easily grown, easily pruned and very hardy. Basically, it’s a shrubby honeysuckle, only forget about the flowers. In winter, it takes on a purplish hue.

Skimmia japonica is an old favourite with its lovely dark foliage and rich red berries. It does best in acidic soil.

Then there’s the truly lovely Viburnum davidii, which produces blue berries, and V tinus (pink buds followed by small white flowers) and various mahonias (mainly yellow flowers and holly-like leaves).

Box (buxus) is always welcome, as is one of the finest flowering shrubs for a shady site – the camellia, which, like Skimmia japonica, like an acidic soil.

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