Fantastic Fatsia!

Winter Garden Interest
Fatsia japonica lights up College Garden

In winter the evergreen and abundantly berried Fatsia japonica comes into its own. In a medieval garden this plant surely has no place – and yet it has just the size and drama that is needed. The huge evergreen leaves resemble the size and shape of fig leaves. (We have a fig tree, but its leaves came off in November and are now on the compost heap.) Not only that – its white foamy flowers support all our insects. The geometric drumstick formation of the green berries, which then turn a beady black, are an architectural feature which goes brilliantly with a rose window, seen in the background.

In the UK in winter you need plants that stay green in winter. There are a few native ones: holly and yew, ivy, privet and box. But they do not have the Wow factor to add the personality that the garden of such a famous place needs. They also look supremely healthy with their thick, glossy leaves, sturdy white stems and fruit on stalks. They say ‘Here I am. Look at me.’

A great plant for an urban monastic garden – especially in Winter.


Head Gardener at Westminster Abbey

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