Saturday, 23 October 2010

Fragrant Shrubs for your Winter Garden

Winter can often be overlooked when planning a planting scheme. My clients always ask for year-round interest in their planting schemes, so I have some recommendations for plants that really come into their own in the Winter months.

Some of the most fragrant plants are those which flower in winter. The reason for this is they are trying extra hard to attract the very few insects around at this time of year. Here are some of my favourite winter flowering shrubs:-

1. Daphne odora aureomarginata: this is one of my favourite shrubs. It’s evergreen with a variegated leaf and small pink highly fragrant flowers. It holds a nice tight shape and can be pruned if it gets too big for its allotted space. It will also tolerate shade, and prefers a well-drained alkaline soil.

2. Viburnum bodnantense ‘Charles Lamont’: another great plant that will grow in sun or shade. Give it some space as it can get quite large, although you can keep it pruned. It is deciduous, with clusters of pale pink fragrant flowers on bare branches throughout the winter. It will grow virtually anywhere in any kind of soil.

3. Sarcococca confusa: an evergreen shrub with gorgeous scented white flowers, and an interesting arching habit. You will be able to smell the scent of its rather insignificant flowers all over the garden. It is highly shade tolerant and can be planted under trees. It is not fussy about soil type.

4. Lonicera frangrantissima: a shrubby deciduous honeysuckle with cream flowers with a gorgeous sweet scent. It will tolerate some shade, but does better in full sun. Give it some space as it can get quite large and looks better with just a little light pruning. It will grow in any kind of soil.

5. Osmanthus burkwoodii: this is a fantastic evergreen shrub which makes an excellent hedge. It has white flowers that appear in late winter and are very fragrant. It will grow in sun or shade and any type of soil. It performs best when kept well pruned.

6. Chimonanthus praecox: best grown against a warm, sunny wall. This shrub has pretty yellow, fragrant flowers with brownish purple centres on bare stems throughout the winter. In summer it has attractive glossy, lance-shaped leaves. A lovely fragrant shrub, its stems are often cut and used in flower arranging. It will grow in all soil types.

7. Mahonia x media ‘Charity’: one of my least favourite plants due to its overuse in municipal planting schemes. Mahonia can be used to good effect at the back of a border where its architectural foliage and plumes of yellow fragrant flowers do light up a dull winter day. But do keep it pruned or it will get huge, woody and hideous. It will tolerate shade and any soil type.

8. Hammamelis: commonly known as Witchhazel, this lovely shrub is a must for the winter garden. Delicate, spidery flowers which can be either yellow red or orange appear in late winter on bare branches. The subtle, unusual scent from the flowers is a real treat in the midst of winter. It prefers an acid to neutral soil and will grow in shade. Although it’s deciduous the leaves also provide lovely autumn colour.

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