Pieris japonica ‘Blush’

There are several lovely species of the evergreen shrub Pieris, but I have chosen P. japonica in the variety ‘Blush’ because it obviates a few difficulties. The species flowers best, but has poor foliage, in the sun, and flowers only sparsely in the shade. In light shade, ‘Blush’ produces both flowers and leaves of fine quality, and will win some protection from frost. It makes a dense plant and will grow 9 to 10 feet (2.7 to 3 m) high.

It flowers in early spring in glorious drooping sprays of waxy pink flowers resembling lily-ofthe-valley. Soon after flowering the shrub begins to put out young bronzy leaves, which turn to polished dark green as they mature. In other species, the foliage is more brilliant, especially in the Chinese P. formosa ‘Forrestii’, which is perhaps the best-known of the genus, but is not so hardy. It flowers in late spring, with sprays of white waxy flowers.

All Pieris need the same conditions as rhododendrons, that is, lime-free soil dressed with peat or leafmould, and some shade and shelter. Their seedpods red, as it is in some species and varieties.

Should be clipped off in autumn. They can be grown as single plants, but look marvellous massed, and those, like myself, with a garden unsuitable for eri-caceous plants, can enjoy the spectacle in one of the great woodland gardens in which Britain is so rich, such as Wakehurst Place, in Sussex, or the Valley Gardens, Windsor, in Berkshire.

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