A genus of some 45 species and many cultivars of shrubs and trees. Amongst these are many garden-worthy forms. They are mainly notable for their foliage but a few for their flowers as well. The foliage of most garden forms is evergreen, although there are a few deciduous ones. Most are grown for the colour of their foliage. Some have silver leaves others have variegated, mainly gold or yellow and green.
The flowers are small and relatively inconspicuous, but they are often sweetly scented and perfume the air for quite a distance around, especially during warm weather. The evergreen nature of many of the shrubs makes them valuable as structural elements in the garden since they retain their colour and shape, and thus interest, throughout the year, including the winter when the garden can be at its dullest. They will grow on most soils, but may be unhappy on chalk. They like fertile but well-drained conditions. Most prefer full sun but the evergreens can be grown in light shade, although the shrubs will become more open. Most are good for seaside gardens. Increase from cuttings in spring or summer.