Loropetalum chinense

Burgundy-leaved form of Loropetalum chinense

Sometimes known as the fringe flower, this is one of my favourite spring-blooming shrubs. It comes from China (it is also found in Japan and Myanmar) and grows to about 2 m tall. It has an interesting horizontal habit and naturally grows quite wide, though it can be pruned (after flowering) into any shape if preferred. I trim mine into a large domed shape; I have seen it clipped successfully as a formal hedge in Sydney's Hyde Park. Leaves are small and oval-shaped. The original species has pretty creamy-white spidery flowers, but my favourite ones have burgundy-coloured leaves and pink flowers.

Hedge of Loropetalum chinensis Pixie Purple in the garden of Kerrie and Steve Babian in Sydney

There are various cultivars, including 'Burgundy' and 'China Pink' - their foliage is stunning in spring and early summer but does tend to turn green eventually. A new cultivar called 'Plum Gorgeous' is said to retain its coloured foliage all year round. 'Purple Pixie' is a dwarf form growing 30-50 cm tall and 1.2-1.5 m wide, with rich purple foliage and pink flowers in spring.

Clipped Loropetalum chinense in the garden of Masako Piper in Sydney

Loropetalum is an undemanding shrub, which will grow in sun or shade. It will be grateful for occasional watering and some fertiliser after flowering. I enjoy my dark-leaved one with bluebells and blue and white forms of Iris japonica growing around its base. It would also associate well with some of the dark pink or plum-coloured hybrid hellebores. I can also imagine the creamy-coloured one looking very good paired with some cream Clivia, which bloom at the same time. The foliage of the dark-leaved cultivars is useful in flower arrangements, as it doesn't wilt.

Flowers in August, September.

 Out now in my Sydney Garden.