Aucuba japonica crassifolia (Japanese Laurel)
The original cuttings (1989) came from an old plant (still there, I think) just inside the Elizabeth Gate at Kew Gardens in Surrey. It’s in full sun but the plant looks much better in shade – big glossy, healthy leaves that never seem to be sullied by pest or disease. It will grow quite happily in full sun but the leaves become slightly bleached yellow – not so dark green and glossy. There’s a strap line we’ve always used on a very robust Hebe we grow – “Kill this and give up gardening“. I think we could safely say the same about this. It occasionally bears little red fruits. The flowers are yellow and frothy but not showy. It seems indifferent to soil type, cold or heat and will grow to 6ft x 6ft in about 5 years.
Severe frost (-4°c or below) will give the leaves a glazed, pendulous look. It can look terminal but it’s not. It’s quite dramatic and the first time you see it, you will almost undoubted say “Oh dear“. They recover wonderfully well as soon as the temperature rises.
N.B. When clipping several plants with the same tool, have a bucket containing a 5% bleach solution and swish your blades around for 30 seconds between plants to sterilise them. This will help avoid the chance of cross contamination of disease.
As with all woody plants, plant high, exposing as much of the taper at the base of the trunk as possible. Allowing soil to accumulate round the base of a tree can be fatal. Keep very well watered when first planted.
Hardiness level Green