By C StClair
Are you familiar with the plant commonly known as “Himalayan Sweet Box” (Sarcococca hookeriana var. humilis)? This is one of those plants I dearly love, especially this time of the year.
Sweet Box is actually a shrub, but it is very low growing and spreads, creating a ground cover. No worries about a horticultural invasion. It spreads slowly – you’ll actually wish it spread faster than it does.
It does need some shade – especially during hot afternoons. If it gets too much sun in winter, the leaf tips might brown a bit. But once it is established, it can tolerate dry, shady soils – even those under established trees. It looks fresh, green and tidy all season.
The common name “Sweet Box” is very fitting. It maintains it shiny green leaves like a boxwood (although they are larger and pointy), but it gets small, intensely fragrant flowers in very early spring (in my garden – about the same time as the snow crocus). Brought inside, the flowers can subtly perfume the entire room.
One caution though, Sarcococca hookeriana is susceptible to boxwood blight so if you know you have boxwood blight on your property this may not be the best plant choice.