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Simple but sweet, with an intense fragrance, Sarcococca will raise your spirits every time you pass it on those cold February days. Hardy, tolerant of dry shade, atmospheric pollution, and indeed neglect, this unassuming evergreen is a fantastically practical shrub for a London garden. But it’s at this time of year that ‘sweet box’ really comes into its own, with scattered, tiny, honey scented white flowers. The fragrance of which will chase away those late winter blues and put a ‘spring’ in your step. The flowers are followed by black or red berries, which can persist through the summer giving year-round interest.

Sarcococca are so versatile, being just as happy to fill that troublesome spot under a tree, a prime position in your border, or as a pot plant, near to the door to get the maximum benefit from their heady aroma. With the recent issues with box tree caterpillar, they are also worth considering as an alternative to buxus hedging, being generally pest and disease free.  Shade or partial shade is preferred, but they will grow in full sun, as long as the soil is kept moist. They require little or no pruning, with any maintenance to be carried out in late spring. Whatever the size of your garden, or outside space, Sarcococca is highly deserving of its fragrant place within it.

Common Name: Sweet box

Botanical Name: Sarcococca

Flowering Time: Winter to early Spring

Height and Spread: 0.8-2m x 0.8-1.5m (dependent on variety)

Aspect: Shade/partial shade/full sun (moist soils)

Hardiness: Hardy