Q&A: What is it? What is it? Can I grow it?

Can I grow it?
Can I grow it?
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Three queries in one week, all concerning this plant now showing off in hedgerows and even a few gardens.

And the answer to can we grow it? is ‘yes’, if you really want to. You won’t be the first because it was a popular plant in Victorian shrubberies but it proved to be a bit too invasive and so fell out of favour.

Nevertheless, in recent times attempts have been made to re-introduce the species in Britain with new cultivated varieties appearing in garden centres.

It’s Leycesteria formosa (Himalayan honeysuckle, flowering nutmeg, Himalaya nutmeg or pheasant berry) and it’s a deciduous shrub easily grown in any garden, but it really loves woodland gardens in sun or partial shade.

It got its name from Nathaniel Wallich, director of the Calcutta Botanic Garden, in India, who christened it in honour of his friend, William Leycester, a judge in the native court in Bengal.

It produces soft, hollow, upright green stems anything up to two metres in height. They last a few years before collapsing to be replaced by new growth.