Take your pick from the sweet box

Sweet Box, Christmas Box or plain old Sarcococca, this is one of the great winter garden plants. 

Festooned in small fragrant flowers in the coldest months of the year, this is a group of evergreen, shade tolerant plants that will grow in acid or alkaline soils. Sarcococca is a member of the box family (Buxaceae) and its species tend to be small or medium shrubs. The curious looking botanical name Sarcococca refers to its fruit, coming from the Greek sarx meaning flesh and kokkos meaning berry. The fruit is attractive, colouring from red to black as it matures. With its scented blooms, the English common name is sweet box or Christmas box, due to its flowering season.

As already mentioned, the sweet box  is a very accepting plant when it comes to position and soil. It will certainly thank you for a rich soil but can cope in sun or shade. Undemanding and easy to look after, if they need any cosmetic pruning, do so after flowering. Our shrub expert Ann Wendik-Byfield has gathered her favourites for your delectation!

Sarcococca confusa: this is the tallest and chunkiest of the sweet box, with a good 2m x 2m height and spread. (£11.99)

Sarcococca Purple Stem: as the name suggests this variety is known for its coloured stems. The mid-ribs of the leaves are also a purple / red hue. It should make about 1.8m in height. (£13.99)

Sarcococca humilis: white flowers with delicate pink anthers, used by some as a ground cover as it tends to grow to only about 0.5m high and produces spreading suckers. (£11.99)