Pieris japonica Debutante 

After the mild winter losses are few in fact there was only one loss, Celmisia incana which survived -15 deg and -3 at mid day for 3 or 4 days, 12inches of snow and rabbits over the previous 2 winters succumbed to the damp this winter just as it was starting to look good. None the less there is still much to choose from as a result of temperatures up to 22deg cent and the disappearance of the cold winds which had been present for 2 or 3 months. Probably one of the most surprising events is the number of bee’s busy collecting pollen and nectar. In fact it’s a long time since I have seen so many bees both in numbers and species at the same time especially on Erica carnea ‘Springwood White’ which as been in flower for eight weeks

However it is Pieris japonica ‘Debutante’ which is the star for March. A member of Ericaceae, this is a superb little Pieris growing no more than 30inches high. I have had it for about 25 years with dark green leaves about 2-3inches long it makes a compact and dense small bush. It does not, like P. Forest Flame produce red young foliage but this is no disadvantage for this Award of Merit shrub. Because it is so floriferous it may not be so keen to flower the following year so I will try cutting of the old flower heads.

Any good garden soil that is slightly acid with organic matter will suffice as long as it is not allowed to dry out. Propagation should be by cuttings.

James McCombe