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Growing plants for winter scent

Posted: Monday 4 February 2013
by Kate Bradbury

Thank heavens for winter-flowering plants. These hardy specimens often have tiny, inconsequential blooms, but they more than make up for them with their powerful, sweet fragrance.


Viburnum x bodnantense 'Dawn'

Thank heavens for winter-flowering plants. These hardy specimens often have tiny, inconsequential blooms, but they more than make up for them with their powerful, sweet fragrance.

I rarely notice the flowers of Sarcococca hookeriana, but I’m always blown away by their scent. I also like Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’, which produces clusters of tiny rose-pink flowers on bare stems from October to March. However, I’ve seen too many viburnums growing in ‘municipal’ settings to want to grow them in my garden. (They remind me of a grubby area outside White City tube station.)

I’d sooner have a garden packed with wintersweet, Chimonanthus praecox, which comes alive in later winter with drop-dead gorgeous flowers and a heavenly fragrance. Another favourite is witch hazel, Hamamelis spp. I bought my mum several varieties about five years ago and every winter they light up her garden like shining, scented beacons. 
 
Winter-flowering honeysuckle, Lonicera fragrantissima, is another good option for the winter garden. Unlike climbing varieties, including Lonicera periclymenum and Lonicera japonica, it’s not a climber but a shrub, bearing honey-scented white flowers along its branches.

If you do invest in winter-flowering plans, grow them where you can take in their fragrance without making a special trip - a front garden, perhaps, or just outside the front or back door. We’re not often in our gardens at this time of year, so grow them where they can best be appreciated.





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oldchippy 04/02/2013 at 17:55

Hi Kate we have a winter flowering Cherry opposite the kitchen door just behind the soakaway from the roof,it's been in flower for two month now and I have never seen it look this good,The snow drops are very stunted this year only just above the ground,there are plenty of Daffs coming into flower this year after the poor show last year. Oldchippy.

Verdun 04/02/2013 at 21:17

I think scent in winter is so important. Nature has given us daphne, sarcoccoca, Hamamellis, winter honeysuckle, sweet scented daffodils to name just a few. Scent throughout the year is desirable too so,I'm going to post a new thread about scent in summer.............

Kate Bradbury 11/02/2013 at 13:19

Thanks for your comments. Verdun will you post a link to your post on here?

Thanks

Kate

chicky 13/02/2013 at 07:03

I love my daphne Jaqueline Postil - comes out every year in the week after Christmas and is still going strong at the end of February.  Its by our driveway, so catch its gorgeous smell everytime we come home - even in the dark - magic.

I planted a wintersweet two years ago.  It is still quite tiny (40cm high) - lots of leaves in summer but, as yet, no sign of flowers.  Does anyone know how long they take to get to flowering size ?

Heliotrope 13/02/2013 at 13:07

Hi Chicky,

I have a wintersweet and only realised after planting that they can take up to 7 years to flower.  Mine started flowering in its third year (a little) and improves every year.  This year I've had a pretty nice display (year 5).  The fragrance is so lovely, though, that it's worth waiting for.  Good luck with yours!

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