The best one for containers in winter and spring is Skimmia
japonica, which produces clusters of fragrant, white or pink-tinted spring flowers opening from red buds.
can tolerate periods of drought if grown in open ground, although they prefer a shadier spot as the hot sun can turn their leathery leaves yellow.
japonica 'Rubella' is a widely sold male with bright red flower buds.
However, there are some self-fertile varieties such as skimmia
'Temptation' and gaultheria 'Bell's T Seedling' if you've only room for one.
Expert tip: Most varieties need male and female flowers but skimmia
reevesiana can produce without a mate!
Gather various foliages from your garden such as ivy, viburnums, pine, seneccio, holly, skimmia
, hebe and eucalyptus.
It was the skimmia
- planted there to add form to the ivy, carex and bergenia nestling with it in a magnificent combination.
Harris also suggests holly and Skimmia
japonica because of their festive red berries, and boxwood, hydrangea, lavender, rosemary, and the leaves and berries of other kinds of eucalyptus.
Varieties available are Skimmia
japonica Rubella (below), Euonymus Fortunei Emerald Gaiety, Euonymus Blonde Beauty, Choisya ternata Sundance, Ceonothus (Californian Lilac) and Leucothoe Scarletta.
3 EXTEND THE SEASON A LARGE skimmia
, which is an evergreen shrub with clusters of attractive flowers and berries, makes a great focal point.
Other shrubs providing fantastic red berries at this time of year are Skimmia
japonica, pyracantha and one of my favourites, Euonymus europaeus, whose red fruit splits open to reveal an orange seed within.
Similarly, cyclamen look great bunched together as their colours are so dazzling and in other pots I have gone for more muted colour schemes, such as the Carex 'Everest' mixed with Skimmia
'white dwarf '.