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Mahonia: the reliable evergreen for late autumn and winter colour and interest

If you’re looking for a reliable hardy evergreen plant that can add interest and colour to the garden throughout the autumn and winter, then Ladybrook Nursery can definitely recommend the versatile mahonia. Mahonia, or Oregon grape, are highly prized not just for the beautiful glossy evergreen leathery foliage, but also because they flower through the winter months when much of the rest of the garden lies fallow.

Most varieties of mahonia, like the popular mahonia x media ‘Winter Sun’, produce 30cm elongated cup-like erect flowers from November through to March, followed by attractive blue-black berries. However, whilst mahonia is traditionally thought of as being a predominantly winter plant,  certain species in the mahonia genus are at their best in the late summer to early autumn, from late August to early October: mahonia Japonica ‘Hivernant’ and mahonia ‘Soft Caress’ are just two perfect examples of this.

Mahonia japonica ‘Hivernant’

Mahonia japonica ‘Hivernant’ is an attractive and fairly upright shrub. Mahonia japonica ‘Hivernant’ has dark green leaves and sprays of lemon yellow flowers in winter once established. Although it is generally hardy, some leaves may turn orange and red in cold winters. This plant is suitable for a sunny or shady spot in the garden and will eventually grow to become a medium sized shrub in time.

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Type: shrub

Height: 1m

Foliage: evergreen – compact

Flower colour: bright yellow

Flowering: August to October

Aspect: full sun to partial shade

Mahonia x media ‘Winter Sun’

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Mahonia x media ‘Winter Sun’ is one of the most popular plants in the mahonia family. It has elegant deep green leaves and striking, large racemes of fragrant, yellow flowers in midwinter. These colourful flowers are followed by small, ornamental purple berries. Mahonia x media ‘Winter Sun’ is an excellent, tough plant for a shady spot and much valued for its winter interest

Type: shrub

Height: 2m

Foliage: evergreen – dark spiny

Flower colour: pale lemon, scented

Flowering: November to March

Aspect: full sun to partial shade

Mahonia ‘Soft Caress’

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Mahonia ‘Soft Caress’ was the first plant in the mahonia family to have entirely spine free foliage. Winner of “Plant of the Year” at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2013, this superb evergreen shrub has a useful autumn flowering period. Fragrant spikes of golden blooms are followed by spherical, blue berries.  Mahonia ‘Soft Caress’ is a compact and resilient shrub that does best in full sun to partial shade.

Type: shrub

Height: 1m

Foliage: evergreen – compact spineless

Flower colour: bright yellow

Flowering: August to October

Aspect: full sun to partial shade

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