With much of the garden asleep for the winter, treats such as flowers and scent are even more important. There are some beautiful plants that shine at this time of year, and many of them have the most wonderful fragrance.
Because winter’s weather can be damaging, plants that bloom now can’t use large, blowsy flowers to attract their insect pollinators. Instead, the flowers have to be modest and relatively small so they can survive harsh conditions, but to make sure they’re just as alluring to insects, many are scented.
Daphnes are famously fragrant, with their tiny star-shaped pink flowers pumping out scent. Put them as near as you can to the back door or paths so you can get the maximum benefit. Not all daphnes are completely hardy, so you need to think about where you plant them. A sheltered, mild garden will be fine, but if you’re in a cold area that is prone to frosts and the temperature stays below -5°C for long periods, choose something else. Daphne bholua is brilliant for scent and the variety ‘Gurkha’ is one of the hardiest, but for no risks, go for totally hardy Daphne mezereum.
The deciduous shrub Chimonanthus praecox has unusual flowers – a sort of waxy yellow with maroon staining on the inside of the ‘bells’. The flowers are produced straight from the bare branches and are sweetly scented. For the rest of the year, chimonanthus doesn’t do much, it just has plain green leaves, so perhaps put it at the back of a border to form a backdrop for other more exciting things in summer!
Viburnum bodnantense is another good choice for the back of a border with its corrugated summer leaves, but you can smell its gorgeous pink or white tubular flowers a mile off.
Then there are the witch hazels (hamamelis) with their fantastic spidery flowers. Their fresh, lemony scent is best if you plant them in a spot where low winter sun will be able to gently warm them up. Try ‘Pallida’, ‘Jelena’ or ‘Diane’.
And if you want an evergreen, choose sarcococca with glossy green leaves and small winter flowers with a knock-out sweet, spicy scent.
EVERY DAY: Leucanthemum vulgare
Ox-eye daisies are a pretty wildflower, loved by insects and pollinators and their wonderful white flowers keep summer borders looking fresh.
EXTRA SPECIAL: Leucanthemum ‘Shaggy’
An ox-eye daisy with a difference, this one’s finely divided petals give the flowers the appearance of a powder-puff!
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