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Mahonia 'Charity': providing glorious winter colour and texture

A worthy addition to our gardens at any time of the year, Mahonias really come into their own as winter starts to loom. For many, it’s the yellow flowers that makes the Mahonia attractive, but for garden designers like me it is the fantastic structural qualities of the plant that make it so appealing.


M. ‘Charity’ (or Mahonia x media ‘Charity’ to give it it’s full botanical name) is an evergreen shrub that can reach heights of 2-3m over time. It will happily grow in most soil types providing they are well-drained, and can cope with almost any position including partial shade. It’s holly-like leaves are mid- to dark green in colour and are borne in groups along horizontal stems. It is these unusual ‘tiers’ of glossy foliage that make M. ‘Charity’ such a wonderful focal point throughout late-autumn and winter.


It also makes it a wonderful plant for providing structural contrast alongside many of our other popular garden plants. Planted, for example, adjacent to a red-stemmed dogwood (Cornus alba ‘Sibirica’), or one of the many wonderful Viburnums (Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’ is one of our favourites), always guarantees a really interesting composition. This is true at any time of the year, but particularly in the colder months when M. ‘Charity’s evergreen foliage and horizontal growth habit really come to the fore.


As added interest, M. ‘Charity’ usually offers some yellow and orange autumn foliage colour, before large clusters of small yellow flowers emerge to provide a showy display. Lasting well into winter, the flowers are slightly scented and are often followed by round, dark purple berries. As an alternative, M. ‘Winter Sun’ is a popular choice, providing a very similar display but usually as a slightly smaller plant. One word of caution though, because the leaves of both ‘Charity’ and ‘Winter Sun’ are prickly it is a good idea to keep them away from paths or seating areas, particularly if smaller children or pets also use the garden.


All in all, M. ‘Charity’ is a great plant for almost any garden. If you don’t already have it in yours why not consider planting one or two? It will instantly add some interest this year but, given time to establish, it will also become one of the stars of your winter garden in future years. 

Tythorne Garden Design provides professional fixed-fee garden design solutions for customers in Grantham, Stamford, Newark and surrounding areas. Let's see how we can help you to enjoy your garden more. Call us on 07900 224 239 or 01529 455 355.

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