Rhaphiolepis, or Indian Hawthorn, is a very effective screen or hedging shrub that also gives you a great spring display of pink or white flowers. There are a few cultivars and hybrids but they will generally be 1m to 2m high and wide.
It has tough rounded leaves that maintains a fresh look through the year and is resilient to harsh hot conditions while also putting up with some shade. It doesn’t need much water, though might need some supplemented moisture through prolonged drought.
Despite its name, Indian hawthorn comes from southern China and is well adapted to Mediterranean or sub tropical conditions.
While it makes a useful hedge, Rhaphiolepis doesn’t need much clipping as it maintains a neat compact shape. It is a good choice as a solid background border shrub with its strong dark green foliage, but it will then come alive with its cheerful blooms in early spring, when massed plantings make a great impact.
I love Rhaphiolepis as a very tough shrub that puts up with harsh conditions but still looks healthy and rewards with some seasonal colour. One potential drawback with many plants with these sorts of qualities is that they may do too well and get weedy. Melbourne’s climate seems to keep it in check but be careful if you are in warmer areas.