Ornamental evergreen shrubs, suitable for shady corners of the garden, but also with some forms useful as a pot patio plant. Clusters of often scented flowers, red, cream or green, at the tips of growth, during late winter into spring. Most have male and female flowers on separate plants, so two plants maybe required to produce the colourful fruits. Some forms are hermaphrodite (flowers contain male and female parts), like Skimmia japonica subsp. reevesiana so doesn't need a pollinating partner. Underrated plants, tough, colourful and they don't need much pruning or attention. Foliage is also very scented, which is very typical of its family.
The sweetly-scented clusters of flowers that emerge just as the garden starts to warm up, often from late February, are a treat for our senses and for the bees and hoverflies newly emerged from hibernation, and really in need of a meal. For a month, the flowers continue to provide, neatly bridging the transition from winter to spring. Typically for the family, the leaves and berries are highly aromatic and contain toxins, especially in the berries (on female plants). Despite having all the appearance of glossy red edibility, even birds find them at least unpalatable.