Scent in the winter garden has to be the best reason to brave the winter weather and get out there and enjoy it. Well positioned winter flowering shrubs close to paths, back and front doors and on route from the log store or garage can lift the spirits and remind us all that even in the depths of a gloomy winter there can be something ‘Rosie’ in the garden. Many winter flowering shrubs have almost insignificant flowers but punch well above their weight when it comes to scent. Here are a few of my favourites;
Daphne: a wonderful shrub with a good compact habit, two of my favourites varieties that will grow well on chalk are. D. mezereum, upright habit with small rose pink flowers on bare stems from February into March and pack a heady slightly citrusy scent.
Also the evergreen D. odora ‘Aureomarginata’, a neat mound forming shrub with mid-green glossy foliage with a cream edged leaves. The waxy flowers are held in small clusters pink in bud opening to cream and are highly scented.
Mahonia: a dramatic architectural evergreen shrub from large to smaller varieties, with striking foliage, glossy dark-green pinnate leaves, with holly like edges, cover upright stems to give a distinctive habit.
M. ‘Charity’ out of the whirls of radiating leaves long racemes of clear yellow fragrant flowers, are produced from December through January.
M.trifolioliata ‘Winter Sun’, leaves of three spiny heavily veined leaflets. Mid-yellow flowers strongly fragrant, in late winter early spring, followed by clusters of redcurrant like berries.
Lonciera: There is much more to the genus of Lonicera than the twisting climbing honeysuckle. The winter flowering shrub is much to celebrate.
L. fragrantissima x purpusii, arching branches, semi-evergreen shrub. It has delicate flowers held in pairs up the stem and sweetly scented, late December, through January and into February and beyond, the flowers hanging on as the new leaf growth appears.
Sarcococca: a marvellous low growing glossy green evergreen shrub, which is invaluable in any small garden for a semi-shady area. The indistinct white ‘hairy’ flowers are held on the stems peaking out through the foliage, they may not be much to look at but their powerful scent can be smelt several meters away. The shrub flowers, January into February and in mild winters sometimes in December. Flowers followed by black round fruits. Good varieties are, S. hookerana digyna ‘purple stem’ erect habit with purple stems.
S.confusa, a dense low spreading habit making it a perfect ground cover shrub.
Planting and sighting of winter shrubs should be give some thought. They need to be near the house or on a regular route travelled, not stuck out in the outer reaches of the garden where a boggy lawn has to be traversed to get to them. Also to get the full effect of the scent an enclosed planting area or court yard will give best results. All of the shrubs I have suggest, apart from the Mahonia,can be used as cut flowers, a small poise brought into the house can fill a room with delightful scent even on the those bleak winter days.
However scented shrubs are just one of the ingredients to a successfully planted winter garden. I have created many winter plantings through out my years in landscaping. With evergreen textures and leaf colours, to winter flowering herbaceous plants and shrubs. Plant seed heads can offer a dramatic element especially when frost is added. Chipped evergreens and good architectural shaped shrubs form invaluable back drops. Also the stunning use of coloured stems of coppiced shrubs and trees. Shrubs and trees that hold their berries through the winter months deserve their place. Grasses in mounds and great sweeps both deciduous and evergreen inter- planted with early bulbs are a must. All these plants form important ingredients to make a stunning winter garden to be enjoyed. So get planting, or if you need help? I know a woman who can, give me a ring, 01273 470753.