For 8 months of the year, I would not blame you if you walked past this shrub without a second glance, it is not a showy plant, but from December to March you may well back track, as you notice a heady vanilla scent on the air.  So it is an excellent plant to consider putting into a pot by doorways for the winter period, or plant to enhance your winter garden.

Sarcococca hookeriana (Christmas Box)
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Sarcococca hookeriana (Christmas Box)
Image: thanks to Sheffield Botanical Gardens

Sarcococcas  also called Christmas or Sweet Box deserve to be better known with their shiny evergreen leaves and red or black berry-like fruit.  The flowers are tiny star-like clusters, white or pink-tinged running up the stems.  They also have a very obliging nature.

They like a moist but well-drained and humus rich soil, but will cope with thin soils or dry sites with an added mulch.  They will grow both in acid and alkaline soils, in shade or sun and need no pruning. They are fully hardy.  What more can you ask?

Sarcococcas are available in a useful variety of sizes from a height and spread of 0.6 metres (Sarcococca hookeriana var humilis) up to 2 – 1.5 metres by 1.5 metres (Sarcococca confusa) plus other varieties.

A great plant to cheer up a dreary winter day.