Elaeagnuspungens ‘Maculata’

W.J. Bean, author of the classic work on trees and shrubs, describes this shrub as ‘the most striking of all variegated evergreens’, and as its leaf colour is most brilliant in the winter, it has a strong claim to a place in every garden. The leaves are large, oval, glossy and bright green with a bright yellow splash down the middle.

This elaeagnus is very slow-growing, and though it is said to grow up to 15 feet (4.5 m), I have not seen it so tall, but it is a dense shrub, and even a young specimen makes its mark in a shrub border or in a sunny corner. It grows in any soil, does well in towns, shaping itself felicitously against a wall, and I have found it fully hardy. If any of the young shoots revert to bearing plain green leaves without the variegation, cut them out.

If Helleborus foetidus is planted at the foot of the shrub, there will be a cheerful late-winter picture of pale, dark and bright shades of green with yellow. Sprigs can be cut for the house, giving substance to a vase of winter jasmine or forsythia.

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