When the winter flowering shrubs have finished, the wonderfully fragrant jasmine-like flowers of Osmanthus × burkwoodii take over.
White tubular flowers cover the plant in mid-spring, contrasting well with the dark green leaves. It is equally happy in sun or partial shade, provided it has well drained soil.
Try to provide some shelter from cold north and east winds which might scorch the leaves, but it will grow in most situations. Tolerant of partial shade, it makes an excellent plant for woodland gardens.
At RHS Garden Rosemoor, we have used it as a hedge in the central seating area of the Spiral Garden and behind the swing seat at the entrance to the West Country Town Garden. The dense evergreen foliage makes it an ideal plant to create an enclosed space where you can fully appreciate the fragrance of the flowers. For these reasons, another good situation would be near to the house or patio. Trim back after flowering to increase the flower-power for the following year.
The dense foliage also makes it an ideal plant for clipping and shaping or even topiary. On the Alpine terrace, beneath the wisteria we have planted it with low growing and mound forming shrubs such as Hebe vernicosa AGM and those that can be tightly trimmed such as variegated box, Buxus sempervirens 'Variegata'. The osmanthus will be trimmed to keep it in scale with the other plants.
When not in flower, the dark green leaves of this shrub makes a good background for summer flowering plants. In the Foliage Garden, it has been allowed to grow into a specimen shrub and the dark green foliage makes a lovely contrast to the bright yellow canes of the bamboo Phyllostachys aureosulcata f. spectabilis AGM.
This is a shrub that is not as popular as it should be, but here at Rosemoor, we would not be without it.