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Graham Rice's New Plants Blog

Graham Rice Garden writer and plantsman Northamptonshire and Pennsylvania

Editor-in-Chief of the RHS Encyclopedia of Perennials; writer for a wide range of newspapers and magazines including The Garden and The Plantsman; member of the RHS Herbaceous Plant Committee and Floral Trials Committee; author of many books on plants and gardens.

  • Date Joined: 18 Oct 2006

Skimmia japonica ‘Pabella’: Vigorous and prolific

Posted by Graham Rice on 02 Feb 2014 at 02:24 PM

Skimmia 'Pabella' is prolific and vigorous. Image ©Ronald van der WerfGardeners are often disappointed by skimmias. The foliage looks pale and sickly, the berries are scattered over the plant and never make a dramatic display. But this new variety from Holland looks as if it will restore our confidence. It has three special features.

First of all, the foliage is a rich dark green and sets off the berries well. And secondly, instead of clusters of just a few berries scattered all over the plant, on ‘Pabella’ the berries come in more generous clusters. Finally, while some skimmias have berries in a thin, pale red the berries on ‘Pabella’ are a dark and intense in colour and often last into spring. The combination of dark foliage and dark berries looks very impressive. Plants will reach about 1m in height and are very tolerant of shade.

Of course, skimmias do have their growing requirements and ‘Pabella’ is no different. Neutral and acid soils are definitely preferred, if your soil is limey either add composted bark or grow your skimmias in a container filled with ericaceous compost.

Also, like most skimmias that produce berries, ‘Pabella’ is a female plant and so needs a male plant to provide pollen; S. japonica ‘Rubella’ is a good choice as it’s the most attractive of the male forms with lovely dark red buds. Both ‘Pabella’ and ‘Rubella’ have fragrant white flowers in April and May.

Oddly, the female ‘Pabella’ arose on a Dutch nursery as a sport on a plant of the male ‘Rubella’.

You can order plants of Skimmia japonica ‘Pabella’ from Johnstown Garden Centre and from Plants Galore.



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