■Position: full or partial shade
■Soil: moderately fertile, humus-rich, moist or well-drained soil
■Rate of growth: average
■Flowering period: November to March
■Hardiness: fully hardy
Slender spikes of pale yellow flowers appear from November to March, above rosettes of large, handsome, dark green, holly-like leaves. The flowers of this lovely, upright, evergreen shrub have a fragrance reminiscent of lily-of-the-valley, and seem to glow in the wintry sunlight. They are followed by bunches of highly ornamental, round, deep purple berries. This mahonia makes a lovely focal point for a shady spot in the garden, where its glossy, architectural leaves can be appreciated all year round. Give it space, as its leaves will spread, and conceal its long 'legs' with spring-flowering bulbs and small, shade-loving perennials. Although it prefers shade, it will tolerate sun as long as the soil remains moist.
■Garden care: Apply a generous 5-7cm (2-3in) mulch of well-rotted garden compost or manure around the base of the plant in spring while it is getting established. No pruning required