Fatsia japonica

This stately evergreen shrub is a plant for the town gardener who thinks in terms of form rather than prettiness and colour. When fully grown, it can be 15 feet (4.5 m) tall, and the theatrical quality of its strong, upright stems and huge, glossy, fingered leaves demands a conspicuous position, perhaps on a flight of steps or by a formal porch. The flowers are handsome panicles of round, cream-coloured umbels appearing in autumn, like flowers on the terminal shoots of ivy, which belongs to the same botanical family. Fatsia japonica needs some shade, and will grow in any good garden soil or a loam-based potting compost.

Since a full-grown Fatsia is extremely expensive to buy, you will probably want to start with a small plant, and to re-pot it every spring – its ultimate home should be a large pot of real quality. If grouped with other pots of evergreens, one of the arundinanas, or bamboos, which are of airier, less solid texture, would make a good contrast, and a third member of the group could be a smaller evergreen, such as a variegated Euonymus fortunei. All these are plants from Japan, but I am afraid the Japanese tend to give courteous smiles at western attempts to reproduce their harmonious groupings.

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