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Last week my partners each wrote plant features: one a new discovery and one an old favorite — both dramatic beauties with sexy texture for days. Wanting to be one of the cool kids I thought “what plant should I write about?” and looked around my garden for some showstopper to introduce you to. But my eyes kept returning to the Aucuba japonica ‘Longifolia’…which is really the opposite of flashy, more like a dependable old friend.

I bought my first ‘Longifolia’ back in 2011 and have since added 3 more.

Why? Well it’s effortless and always looks good. The foliage is lovely, the blooms — while small — are sweet…

And look at those red berries!

The older foliage is a deep, dark, green but the new growth is bright chartreuse.

And the best part? This plant is great in dry shade. It just always looks good!

From the Xera plants description: “Shiny, dapper and always glossy green this form of Acuba is often overlooked, but its a supreme shrub for dry shade. Long slightly indented leaves have a willowy effect and add light and grace to woodlands, especially where greedy roots take away soil moisture. To 8′ tall and 5′ wide in 5 years. Small flowers are not conspicuous. Easy to grow, hardy to cold.” This plant has been in this location for 5 years, and it is not 8′ tall x 5′ wide, which is probably good. It was dug up for a couple of weeks in 2014 when our fence was built. I wonder if that set it back a bit? Plus I really don’t give it much water at all, even during our dry summers.

So, got dry shade? Need a nice no-maintenance shrub? Aucuba japonica ‘Longifolia’ is your plant!