We know nature’s not perfect and we like it this way! By crossing species and cultivating we create new plants that look entirely different from their previous parent. We do this through general appearance, growth habit, vigour, scent and blooms. Roses can often be crossed for the latter reasons and importantly for resistance to diseases. The methods to achieve this vary. Often it is through grafting where two plants are fused. X usually defines this in the name. Rosa x centifolia.
Aucuba japonica “Crotonfolia” has a parent of a different appearance. The laurel has strictly speaking not been tampered with and is the effects of a friendly virus, namely the mosaic virus. We have, however, come to prefer it to its green counterpart and therefore cut out the green if the shrub begins to “revert” to its original form.
Corylus avellana ” Contorta” growers decided that the gnarled, twisted appearance was a better look for the hazel and therefore it is the more popular of cultivars. Again, if the plants starts to revert we use the same principle and cut out the “mutant” but really indigenous growth.
Euonymous fortunei is an attractive looking evergreen shrub but again through manipulation a variegated cultivar is more popular ranging from greens and creams to golden yellow. The leaf sizes vary from cultivars and the potential size of the shrubs can differ. Common examples Euonymous fortunei “Emerald n Gold”, “Emerald n Cream”, “Monrovia”.
Elaegnus ebbingei “compacta” has variegated states for instance Elaegnus ebbingei “Gilt Edge” and “Limelight”. These are two good examples of relatively common varieties where startling results can be achieved. The leaf is attractive in any case because of it slight opaqueness/silvery underside and their evergreen too!
These developments only improved the reputation of non flowering evergreens as before we may not have devoted an entire bed to evergreen shrubs. Often it was only shrubs that flowered would have achieved these effects. Much interest can be had from having no flowers to speak of, no real maintenance, only neat, compact and attractive all year round.