Near the top of the list of my top ten plants is Nandina domestica, the sacred bamboo. Not really a bamboo but a relative of berberis, this upright, hardy plant is more or less evergreen and has so many good points that I find it hard to know where to start. The leaves are finely divided and ferny and, set all around the slender, upright, usually unbranched stems, they do look like bamboo. They usually reach 1-1.2m high though they can be a little more but by that stage they are usually getting very bare at the base and are best cut away near soil level. THey will be replaced by new shoots. I suspect, by the habit of the small plant I have, that this new form will reach a similar height but maybe more slowly because of the variegation. When they first appear they are usually flushed with deep red and as they age some turn red in autumn. Large clusters of dainty, small flowers are produced at almost any time from spring to autumn and, if you are lucky, they are followed by bright red berries. New shoots are produced from the base but never far from the main stem so although it does sucker it is not at all invasive. It thrives in light shade or sun and is wonderful in a pot on the patio. There is no garden that cannot be improved by a nandina.
In recent years several new cvs have been introduced and I must say I prefer the ‘ordinary’ kind to the dwarf, broad-leaved ‘Firepower’ which, though colourful, has had all its elegance surgically removed. But I saw this newcomer the other week and added it to the garden. Called ‘Twilight’, it has the typical, dainty foliage but the leaves are liberally dusted with white and pink. I have yet to see a new flush of foliage but, since the new leaves are usually coral red or purple, I am expecting them to be pretty spectacular.