Winter is a great time for garden scents. There are many plants that flower during the winter that bring wonderful perfumes into your garden. Planted close to paths or your house, you will be delighted to enjoy these unexpected delights.
Commonly known as Wintersweet, this plant can be grown up against a wall or free standing preferably in a South facing position. Its spicy sweet scent is one of the best in late winter. Slow to flower it can take several years to establish but it is worth the wait.
As with many winter flowering plants, Wintersweet flowers directly from the bare branches. Its deep creamy flowers are tinged with deep pink in the centre.
An evergreen shrub commonly known as Christmas Box, flowers in mid to late winter. The small spiky white flowers produce a strong intense honey scent. Plant in shady areas and are good companions for other winter flowering shrubs and perennials such as hellebores.
The flowers are insignificant but the scent is very powerful.
A stunning small tree or large shrub, Cornus mas sits quite unassuming throughout the year waiting for its starring role in the depths of winter. The spiderlike flowers appear straight from the bare branches and look very pleasing. The scent is a superb spicy sweetness that makes up for the lack of presence during the warmer seasons.
Hamamelis mollis ‘Pallida’
All the Witch hazels are pretty special but for the most intensely sweet scent, look out for the yellow flowering varieties. One of the best of these is ‘Pallida’. It is a spreading shrub with deep yellow flowers again growing straight from the bare branches.
The scent from the deeper orange and red varieties aren’t quite as intense and more astringent although still in a pleasant way. A good variety is ‘Diane’ whose rich red flowers are very striking.
An open shrub that contributes to the garden in late winter with its delicate scent and very pretty flowers is Edgeworthia chrysantha. It grows well in semi-shade areas and against sheltered walls. It complements the Hamamelis and the Cornus. It looks great if you plant groups of snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) and little winter aconites (Eranthus hyemalis) underneath it. A real conversation piece.
Viburnum x bodnantense
This is the best of the winter flowering Viburnums throughout the season. On warmer winter days the delightful honey and almond scent is present in the garden. ‘Dawn’ is one of the best varieties as it is resilient to hard frosts and produces wonderful large clusters of pink flowers.
It has attractive patterned leaves on bright red stems which makes the shrub an attractive and interesting plant when not in flower.
A shrub group that punches well above their weight with regard to winter scent has to be the Daphnes. The commonly available Daphne adora has delicate pink flowers in winter that are as sweet as any rose in summer.
Quite slow growing it is an attractive evergreen shrub during the rest of the year. Again, plant it close to house and you will find yourself sneaking out for a quick sniff. It is quire delightful.
The winter flowering honeysuckle is a delight. It has the most delicate creamy white flowers throughout winter producing a highly floral scent. It can get untidy during the summer months and will require regular pruning.
Enjoy your winter garden!