Lonicera nitida is sometimes known as 'the poor man's box', an unfair description, but it does sum up a little of what the Shrub Honeysuckle does best which is to provide a really bushy, evergreen hedge of tiny opposing leaves that can be clipped closely and will grow happily in most environments. The leaves are a dark, matt green and mesh to form a very solid looking hedge. Although part of the honeysuckle genus Lonicera nitida's flowers are weeny and white but are fragrant and occur in spring. It will look good as a formal clipped hedge up to two metres tall. After that it can tend to look straggly and you may lose some leaf coverage at the base of the plant.
There is no doubt but that Lonicera nitida is a cheaper and quicker way of achieving an evergreen, medium sized hedge than to use box hedging but you must use the latter if you are trying to grow your hedge in the shade of other trees or of your house. It grows reasonably quickly so you will attain your hedge structure fast but you will need to clip a couple of times during the summer to maintain a crisp profile. If you want a taller evergreen hedge, then you might want to have a look at yew as another option.
For the artistic amongst you, Lonicera Nitida is highly amenable to being topiarised into wonderful shapes.
The twigs are supple when young, and easily trained. The vigorous, bushy habit that makes it popular as an evergreen hedging plant also means that the more you clip, the thicker it grows, quickly camouflaging any supports.
At Osborne House in the Isle of Wight Queen Victoria's garden contained Lonicera nitida stags emerging from a bedding planting of pelargoniums and Festuca glauca. For those who are more relaxed and want a less precise hedge, Lonicera's way of becoming a little shaggy and unkempt if left to its own devices has a charm of its own when surrounded by perennial grasses or in a cottage garden. A final thought is reserved for anyone with an interest in bonsai who might also want to try their hand out on Lonicera nitida.
Lonicera nitida was a shrub brought over from China by Ernest Wilson one of the greatest plant hunters who worked for James Veitch and who died in 1930. He travelled round the world bringing back Clematis armandii, Berberis and many other plants without which our gardens would be bereft. Perhaps his most amazing find was discovering the Actinidia deliciosa vine in China and introducing that to the west. That vine is now called the kiwi fruit!