Have gor­geous aro­mas and beauty in the cold months

Amateur Gardening - - This Week In Gardening -

Dur­ing the months of De­cem­ber to Fe­bru­ary and March, when win­ter holds us in its icy grip, the sight of any­thing in bloom in the gar­den seems in­cred­i­ble. And the fact that those flow­ers that do brave the chill are of­ten highly scented is even more mirac­u­lous.

The likes of win­ter hon­ey­suckle and vibur­num ex­ude an in­tense fra­grance that car­ries on the air. But while these de­li­ciously scented win­ter flow­er­ers are un­doubt­edly ap­peal­ing, many of them are also enor­mous, and en­joy­ing them can seem un­fea­si­ble in the small gar­den. The fra­grant witch hazel

Ha­mamelis x in­ter­me­dia ‘Pal­l­ida’, for in­stance, reaches 10ft x 10ft (3m x 3m), and the honey-scented mi­mosa (Aca­cia

deal­bata) soars to al­most 50ft (15m)! But fear not, be smart with space and you can in­cor­po­rate even the rel­a­tive gi­ants, while many fra­grant win­ter plants are con­sid­er­ably more com­pact.

Save on space

Some win­ter-flow­er­ing shrubs can be grown against a wall, re­duc­ing the amount of room they need. Con­sider grow­ing the white for­sythia

(Abe­lio­phyl­lum dis­tichum) against the sunny side of the house. its bare branches are adorned with al­mond­s­cented flow­ers in Fe­bru­ary and March. You can also max­imise space by grow­ing a sum­mer-flow­er­ing climber like Clematis ‘Comtesse de Bouchaud’ through a win­ter shrub. Lonicera x pur­pusii ‘Win­ter Beauty’, for ex­am­ple, pro­duces per­fumed white blooms from De­cem­ber to March, but does very lit­tle for the rest of the year, so why not em­ploy it as a scaf­fold for clematis?

Al­ter­na­tively, em­brace more gen­er­ous pro­por­tions by us­ing a fra­grant win­ter shrub as your main gar­den tree. Pruned over time, large shrubs such as Vibur­num x bod­nan­tense ‘Dawn’ form charm­ing lit­tle trees, pro­vid­ing a mass of scented flow­ers dur­ing the cold months and a leafy sanc­tum for birds in sum­mer. Prun­ing gar­gan­tuan shrubs to keep them com­pact is an­other op­tion, of course, but be care­ful be­cause some don’t flower well af­ter a hair­cut. Cut back Camel­lia sasan­qua ‘naru­mi­gata’, and it won’t pro­duce many of its teas­cented blooms; but leave it to grow and it could bloat to an im­pos­ing 19½ft/6m!

Less is more

One op­tion that can be pruned to keep it com­pact is Ma­ho­nia x me­dia ‘Win­ter Sun’. in ad­di­tion to the scent its yel­low flow­ers ex­ude from novem­ber to March, it of­fers ar­chi­tec­tural ev­er­green fo­liage and will tol­er­ate shade. Eas­ier still, some fra­grant win­ter-bloom­ing ev­er­greens are nat­u­rally com­pact, in­clud­ing Daphne odora ‘geisha girl’ (1m) and Sar­co­cocca hook­e­ri­ana var. hu­milis (2ft/60cm-3¼ft/1m).

Choose the right va­ri­eties and plant gen­er­ously, and snow­drops and nar­cissi can also fill the air with scent. Galan­thus ‘Mag­net’ and ‘noth­ing Spe­cial’ smell of al­monds and honey, while many nar­cissi (ready to plant now) have a pow­dery per­fume. Try N. tazetta ‘gera­nium’ or ‘Avalanche’, el­e­gant whites ‘Pe­trel’ and ‘Thalia’, and the Jon­quilla ‘Se­govia’.

Let the per­fumes of win­ter flow­ers swirl through the icy air, while the rest of the gar­den sleeps its win­ter slum­ber.

A treat for the nose and the eyes, com­pact Daphne mez­ereum fills the win­ter gar­den with fra­grance and looks lovely dusted with frost Grow Abe­lio­phyl­lum dis­tichum against a wall to en­joy its fra­grance even where space is an is­sue

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