It is not always easy to find a shrub that suits our garden perfectly; a common problem are the hedges, which very often are created with the same, usual plants; very beautiful and easy to grow, certainly, but also so common and widespread that we often lose interest in them. If we want to prepare a hedge, but we don't want to plant the "usual" Photinias, or maybe we want something with more showy flowers, we can decide to look for a nice variety of Escallonia in the nursery.
These plants, whose cultivation gives us very few concerns, have a long series of advantages; they originate in the American continent, and there are various species and varieties.
These are ever-vigorous shrubs, quite vigorous, which do not fear the frost excessively and develop well in the sun of the Italian summers; the foliage is dark and shiny, very pleasant; all summer, at the apex of the branches, they produce small racemes, which bring together many small star-shaped flowers, white, pink or fuchsia, often very fragrant. Escallonia is perfect for those who want a beautiful impenetrable hedge, with flowers for long months; but they are also ideal to grow as single specimens, especially as regards varieties with a larger leaf or with brightly colored flowers.
For those who only have a terrace, or particularly love potted plants, there are also dwarf varieties of escallonia, small balls that are completely covered with star flowers.
These shrubs favor sunny or semi-shaded positions, also because, if placed in a very shaded or dark area, they tend not to bloom, losing most of their pleasantness.
Flowering is summer, and takes place on new branches, so if we want flat plants of flowers it is advisable to practice a nice pruning in early spring, when the minimum nights begin to rise; in this way we will stimulate the development of many new branches, and therefore a much more abundant flowering. In addition to this, regular pruning helps to keep the hedge tidier and promotes the development of denser and thicker shrubs, with a more pleasant shape. In fact, developing freely, escallonia often tends to take on a rather disordered and not very compact appearance, not always elegant.
The soil must be rich and very well worked, possibly characterized by good drainage, so that water stagnation does not occur, which could prove very harmful to the shrub. Watering is provided only during the summer, and only when the soil is dry, as these plants do not like excess watering, and they can withstand drought well enough. Escallonia is a fairly rustic plant, which can bear short frosts; if we live in an area characterized by decidedly very cold winters, it is advisable to place the plants near a wall or in any case in a place well sheltered from the wind; otherwise the plant is likely to suffer damage from the cold at the end of winter. In general, occasional burns caused by frost can simply be removed by pruning, to stimulate the development of new healthy vegetation.
Fertilization is quite important, but, as is the case for most garden shrubs, it is advisable to supply it with a slow release fertilizer, which will be supplied at the end of winter, and will gradually dissolve over the weeks.