Perfume for a wintery day…

Snow on Viburnum

Snow on Viburnum

I woke up to a fall of snow this morning.  It was what I’d describe as the ‘right sort of snow’ in that it dusted the rooftops and gardens but had not been enough to settle on the roads and pavements.  It has subsequently turned wet and so the photo on this post is from last year – but the Viburnum is flowering this year too.  I love winter flowering plants and Viburnum bodnantense ‘Dawn’ is a great example.  It has been flowering non-stop since about November, and will go on for some months yet.  Up close, the flowers can sometimes look a little tatty as the dying blooms stay on the stem alongside the freshly opened ones, but from a distance the plant is a mass of sugar pink on bare stems.  The perfume is quite sweet too, in common with other Viburnums such as V. bonariensis, a spring flowering favourite of mine.

Another winter flowering treasure in my garden is Chimonanthus praecox more commonly known as Wintersweet.  This is quite tender and in my part of the world (not far from RHS Wisley) it is best grown against a wall, as they do at Wisley.  Sadly I don’t have a walled garden and so my next best solution was to plant it against a fence in a protected spot outside my back door.  It is happy there and is a mass of shaggy lemon yellow flowers.  You have to work to get the best of the perfume from Chimonanthus – but it is worth it and I’ve discovered this tip works for any winter flowering plant.  Put your face up close to the flower and breathe out very gently.  Then breathe in and the warmth of your exhalation will release the perfume.  Chimonanthus has a slightly spicy perfume – at least to me it does.   After flowering it becomes a very unassuming specimen,   and there are times when I wish I’d planted something with a longer season of interest so close to the house – and then it starts to flower and I remember why I chose it.

Chimonanthus praecox

Chimonanthus praecox

About Sara Davison

I've been gardening as long as I can remember; initially as a child, learning from my mother, and then with each successive garden I've owned, I've expanded my knowledge and my plant collection. Starting Spring 2014 I'm taking my first steps as a flower farmer, growing British flowers for cutting on an acre of rented farmland in the Surrey Hills.
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