SARCOCOCCA hookeriana Var Humilis

SARCOCOCCA hookeriana Var Humilis
Sweet Box
Highly scented flowers from December onwards, ideal to plant near front or back door, I used to have a group near my front door, from December until February it was a scent you could smell as soon as you walked up the path or opened the door.
Evergreen winter flowering shrub, quite slow growing, tough plants, dark green leathery leaves, small highly scented white flowers, followed by black or red berries (not edible) in the summer, they quite often persist until the winter, prefers full to partial shade, good humus moderately fertile moist soil that does not dry out in summer. Needs little pruning, if any needed prune lightly after flowering. Fertilize early spring.
Height 100cm Spread 100cm. Fully hardy in the UK.

It would be slow to hybridise varieties of Sarcococca!
January is an ideal time to look through seed catalogues looking at what new plants are available before you plan on any crossing or plant breeding programmes.
Check through the seed you have collected, see if any plant breeding projects spring to mind.
For developing your new plant breeding selection or new plant discovery I can offer full trialling and new plant development service more details available on my website.
Also pictures can be taken, recorded and stored if needed.
Full Plant Protection applications processed in UK, EU, and other world territories.
Mother stock build up, Plant propagation and virus testing available.


So we start the new year with periods of cold then mild weather. Although we have had some rain it’s quite dry here in Norfolk as I write, the forecast is for windy and cooler conditions, then relatively mild again with cloud but not a lot of rain. Towards the end of the month it may turn colder..
There is still work to be carried out in the garden when conditions allow.

Plants to look for in January

Chimonanthus praecox ‘Wintersweet’
Eranthus hyemalis ‘Winter Aconite’
Helleborus in variety, orientalis types give a good range of colours and give good opportunities for hybridising.
Iris unguicularis
Mahonia X media ‘Winter Sun’
Ophiopogon planiscapus – good foliage colour

If you have planted autumn bedding you will still need to keep all baskets and tubs watered and checked each day but reduce amount of watering keeping them moist and not wet.
Plant lily bulbs.
Continue to trim back and tidy garden, clearing weeds, digging over borders ready for mulching in spring. Add bark and gravel to heavy clay soils to improve drainage.
Regular weeding and hoeing whenever you can will keep weeds under control they will continue to grow during periods of mild weather.
Tidy and remove any fallen leaves from borders add them to your compost heap.
Check tubers and bulbs of plants, such as Dahlia, Canna and bulbs that you have stored for signs of rot and dampness, remove any that are rotting, but also if they are too dry they will not be any good.
Pruning Evergreens are best left now until the spring.
Cut back ornamental vines, Ivy, Virginia creeper.
Prune Wisteria by cutting back side shoots, avoid cutting off flower buds.
Prune Apple and Pear trees – avoid periods of very cold frosty weather. Leave Cherries and Plums until the spring to reduce risk of bacterial diseases.
Its still ok to move/plant deciduous plants unless soil is waterlogged or frozen.
Most likely you will not need to mow lawn but it’s best not to let it get too long. If it needs a cut don’t cut in frosty conditions and not too short.
Don’t walk across the lawn in frosty weather, or you will leave brown marks where you have walked when frost thaws out.
Keep clearing leaves off lawns as they will block light, hold in moisture increasing risk of disease, moss and algae.
If you have a pond, put some net across to stop herons stealing your fish.
Good time to clean filters, skim leaves off pond surface and rake leaves and debris out of pond.
Drain down any pumps.
Break ice on the pond by holding a saucepan of hot water on it until it melts through.
Trim back marginal plants.
Check water levels and top up if needed.
If you need replacement pumps, filters etc now may be a good time to look for sales and discounted stock.
In the Greenhouse, finish cleaning.
Brush any snow off greenhouses and polytunnels.
Hippeastrum bulbs, maybe you had one as a Christmas present, now is the time to start them off.
For vegetables harvest any parsnips and leeks.
If you grow peas, put a cloche over the area you will use to sow in, do this a few weeks before to let soil warm up.
If you grow potatoes you can start growing in containers under cover for a very early crop, you will need to fleece up containers during frosty weather if your greenhouse is unheated.
If you have Brassicas remove any yellow leaves as they harbour pests and diseases.
Rhubarb can be forced, place a bin or bucket over the crown, this will force young tender pink stems in a few weeks.
Repair any fences and sheds if they are damaged during periods of windy weather.
Keep patio areas clean of algae and moss.
Patio heaters and chimineas may still be needed for those bright clear nights! It’s a good idea to get your gas patio heater checked by a registered heating engineer once a year.
Good time for planning any new hard landscape projects to carry out over winter.
Build a compost heap for leaves and grass clippings.
When weather allows, not water logged or frozen, digging over soil will expose pest larvae to birds and improve soil structure, do this for all vacant vegetable garden soil in readiness for next year. Add plenty of organic compost from your own compost if you have it
Put out food and water for birds during cold periods, but keep area clean and clean feeders regularly to reduce risk of spreading virus and diseases amongst birds. Cleaning up feed debris will help keep vermin under control.
If you must have a bonfire remember to check that you do not have a hibernating hedgehog inside! – they need gardeners help right now as populations are decreasing.
Clean tools and drain any petrol out of any power tools you will not use over the winter.
During these dark days, its is a good idea to get out those seed and plant catalogues and start planning for next year.
Check through the seed you have collected, see if any plant breeding projects spring to mind.

Enjoy the garden, Happy New Year to you all.